Richard Hayman

Vintage Broadway

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The multiplicity of generic classifications for the music on this album reveals its ongoing vitality: part of a "light classics" series on Naxos, it might as easily be called just show tunes. The all-instrumental medleys heard here are played by a medium-sized pop orchestra of the kind that used to flourish on both sides of the Atlantic but has now mostly disappeared -- this recording was made in 1990, and its reissue is linked, perhaps, with signs of a growing interest in the music of pop orchestras. The orchestra is under the direction of Richard Hayman, who presumably made the arrangements (the profession of conductor/arranger is just one of the interesting features of this repertory), and it would need to concede nothing in a matchup of ensemble and smoothness to a classical chamber orchestra (indeed, many of the members of such groups worked as classical musicians, anyhow). The "nostalgia" billed on the back cover of the release is only intermittently in evidence, for this is not really a survey of great Broadway hits. Indeed, Rodgers and Hammerstein's show-within-a-show bomb Me and Juliet is distinctly on the obscure side. But its unusually involved tunes fit well with the music on the program, which seems oriented toward musical subtlety and toward display of the capabilities of the musicians involved. If this is not a heartwarming collection of great Broadway melodies -- something that's easily available elsewhere -- it is something equally worthwhile: an investigation of the high levels of musical craft to be found along the Great White Way.

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