Friday, June 25, 2004


Like I said, the Kim Criswell CD "The Lorelei" is out of print, but used copies can be ordered from the Amazon listing. Like a lot of the discs John McGlinn made for EMI, in that brief period when the sales of McGlinn's Show Boat had convinced them that there was lots more money to be made in recordings of old musicals (this delusion lasted about four or five years), it's a mixed bag. On the one hand, you get songs like Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" and Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind" in their original orchestrations. Most of these arrangements are by Hans Spialek, whose Mitteleuropan, classical-oriented style makes the songs sound very different from the way they sound in the jazzier, brassier arrangements we're all used to. (An example of the "new" style in Broadway orchestration can be heard in the great Don Walker's charts for "The Leader of a Big-Time Band," which has the '40s sound down in a way that Spialek or Robert Russell Bennett didn't.)

On the other hand, McGlinn, for all his excellent work in finding and editing the old scores and orchestrations, is kind of a dull stick as a conductor, with a tendency toward plodding rhythm and a sort of uniform orchestral sound (I can't really describe it in the limited space, but if you listen to all the tracks on this disc they tend to sound the same, with no instrumental colors really standing out). And Criswell, selected by McGlinn and EMI to perform Ethel Merman-type material, has the kind of ear-piercing head-voice belt that was really made more for modern Broadway theatres, with amplification and rock acoustics, than for the old-style stuff. (She settled in London after making these recordings and has performed and recorded quite a bit there.) Still worth the money.

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