Jane Henschel / Mark Stone / Ulf Schirmer

Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd

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Even though this German production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd may be greeted with some skepticism, it is a remarkable performance in English that is fairly free of language problems and surprisingly faithful to classic recordings of this operatic musical. With Mark Stone as Sweeney, Jane Henschel as Mrs. Lovett, Gregg Baker as Anthony, and Rebecca Bottone as Johanna, the cast consciously aims toward a vague approximation of Cockney, intermittently applied, and there are only a few moments in the choral numbers where the Bavarian Radio Choir sings with obvious traces of a German accent. Henschel doesn't sing with the nasal twang associated with Angela Lansbury, though it takes a lot of effort to impersonate that voice, and she was wise to avoid such affectation. Similarly, Stone doesn't growl as fiercely as Len Cariou, and he pursues a richer, more mellifluous interpretation of the character. The highlight of the show is the duet "A Little Priest," which gives Henschel and Stone their most comic moments and steals the show. The Munich Radio Orchestra is conducted by Ulf Schirmer, and they provide a warm and luscious accompaniment to the singing, and the spontaneity of the live performance makes this feel convincingly like a fully staged version. Sweeney Todd has enjoyed many productions in Germany, and this BR Klassik recording will do well there, though it needs wider distribution in the United States to compete with the original Broadway and London cast recordings.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sweeney Todd
1 2:45
2 7:07
3 3:20
4 5:31
5 3:55
6 2:49
7 2:25
8 3:18
9 5:11
10 3:55
11 3:43
12 5:58
13 0:26
14 0:46
15 1:34
16 2:11
17 1:38
18 5:01
19 3:39
20 7:43
blue highlight denotes track pick