Adam Mansell Orchestra

The Best of Rodgers & Hammerstein

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The performing artists on budget label LaserLight's The Best of Rodgers & Hammerstein are the Adam Mansell Orchestra and the Broadway Singers, although you can't discover that until you have already purchased the album and opened it up; their names do not appear on the cover. This is a recording that hews to the old A-side/B-side structure of LPs and cassettes in the sense of its structure. Each "side" (the first five tracks on the first one, the last four on the second) begins with an instrumental. The A-side has an orchestral version of "Bali Ha'i" from South Pacific, and the B-side has "Carousel Waltz" from Carousel, which actually is an instrumental in its original form. The remaining four tracks on the A-side (for those purchasing the cassette format) include another from South Pacific, "Some Enchanted Evening," two from The King and I, "Hello Young Lovers" and "Getting to Know You," and a medley of four songs from Oklahoma! In each of these performances, the Broadway Singers consist of only one vocalist each, men who sing the first and last selections, women who sing the ones from The King and I. The arrangements are similar to those heard in the original productions, so that these recordings come off as if they were lost cast or soundtrack performances. After "Carousel Waltz," the B-side sounds very different. "You'll Never Walk Alone," also from Carousel, is given a folk-rock arrangement and features an expressive vocalist emoting in an adult contemporary, power ballad mode. "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music is more of the same, and "My Favorite Things" is also treated as a pop/rock ballad, this time with male and female choruses performing a duet. The kindest thing to say about the resulting collection is that it demonstrates the versatility of Rodgers & Hammerstein's songs. But even at the low price, this is not a recommended way to hear their better compositions.

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