Get ready for a flurry of Stephen Sondheim recordings scheduled to be released before the fall.
Due in late July or early August is the London cast recording of Sondheim's Passion. Though the show closed Sept. 28, 1996, the cast was regrouped for a recording, June 12-15, on First Night Records. The 110 minute recording took place in front of an audience at the Golders Green Hippodrome in North London.
According to the Stephen Sondheim Stage website (http://www.sondheim.com), most of the original cast were reunited for the concert, including Michael Ball, Olivier-winning best actress Maria Friedman, and Helen Hobson. Musical director Mark Dorrell conducted an orchestra of 20, with the audience asked to save its applause for the end. Paul McKibbins, who administers the rights to Sondheim's music, told Playbill On-Line the recording was "borne from everyone's desire to document a wonderful performance." The original Broadway cast of Passion, on Angel Records, features Donna Murphy and Jere Shea.
Also due before autumn, on Varese Sarabande, is "Sondheim At The Movies," a recording of the works Sondheim wrote for movies and TV (such as Dick Tracy, Reds and TV's "Evening Primrose." Bruce Kimmel is producing, with Tom Fay as the musical director. Warner Brothers will print a companion book of the pieces chosen for singers and accompanists.
The Sondheim website also announced (though McKibbins was unable to confirm) that in February, Julia McKenzie told BBC Radio that she, Millicent Martin, and David Kernan were currently working on a "Side by Side by Sondheim" `continuation'' album, which she jokingly referred to as `Side by Side by Senility.' "Side By Side By Sondheim - Part II" was due for release in the United Kingdom June 17, on Carlton/Pickwick Records. Martin, Kernan and McKenzie were on the original London recording (released domestically) of "Side By Side." Not being recorded, however, is the recent London BBC concert of Follies. Said McKibbins, "It was determined it was not a good idea to record that production. One thing about Sondheim is everybody wants to record their version of a performance, but we don't want to create self-competition. Sometimes 2+2=less-than-four. Here, we already have a London Follies, a U.S. Follies, and a U.S. In-Concert Follies. To put out another would detract from the existing recordings."
Continued McKibbins, "There are only three reasons to record a cast album: archival -- it's of historical importance; or, as in Merrily We Roll Along at Off-Broadway's York Theatre, because that's the final, finished show. Or you do a cast album because it replaces a recording no longer available. Or because it's a special one-time-thing to make some money on. The London Follies doesn't really fit into either of these three categories."