Isn't It Bliss? "Sondheim Sings" CD Series Launches May 10 With Songs Obscure and Beloved

News   Isn't It Bliss? "Sondheim Sings" CD Series Launches May 10 With Songs Obscure and Beloved For Sondheimaniacs, a door to heaven opens May 10 with the PS Classics Inc. CD release, "Sondheim Sings: Volume I (1962-72)."
Cover art for
Cover art for "Sondheim Sings."

The disc, the first in a series produced by Peter E. Jones, "utilizes the demos held in Stephen Sondheim's private collection, and consists of the composer-lyricist singing and playing songs from such shows as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies and A Little Night Music, among others, all digitally remastered."

PS Classics Inc. is the not-for-profit company devoted to the heritage of musical theatre. Tommy Krasker, its co-founder, said fans can expect not only songs cut from the master writer's shows, but expanded, alternate or different lyrics than what eventually made it into well-known scores. For example, "Don't Look at Me," from Follies, is twice as long as the song that is heard in the property today.

"Invocation" (heard on the new disc) was intended as an opening number for Forum and was replaced by "Love Is in the Air" (also on the CD) which was later replaced by the well-known "Comedy Tonight." Only a scrap of the opening passage in newly-resurfaced "Invocation" was later used for The Frogs. The song should come as a discovery to mavens.

A 32-page full color booklet with all the lyrics will include foreward by Larry Gelbart, notes by Jones and production and personal photos.

The track listing is as follows: 1. "Love Is in the Air" (cut from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 1962)

2. "Pretty Little Picture" (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

3. "Truly Content" (The World of Jules Feiffer, 1962)

4. "Multitudes of Amys" (cut from Company, 1970)

5. "Miracle Song" (Anyone Can Whistle , 1964)

6. "The Lame, the Halt and the Blind" (cut from Anyone Can Whistle)

7. "The Glamorous Life" (A Little Night Music, 1973)

8. "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)

9. "Invocation" (cut from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)

10. "Don't Look at Me" (Follies, 1971)

11. "Pleasant Little Kingdom" (cut from Follies)

12. "Everybody Says Don't" (Anyone Can Whistle)

13. "Losing My Mind" (Follies)

14. Broadway Baby" (Follies)

15. "Anyone Can Whistle" (Anyone Can Whistle)

16. "A Hero Is Coming" (cut from Anyone Can Whistle)

17. "No, Mary Ann" (The Thing of It Is, unproduced, 1969)

18. "Marry Me a Little" (cut from Company)

19. "Send in the Clowns" (A Little Night Music)

The series is being launched with Sondheim's full cooperation, with apportioned proceeds to go to the Young Playwrights Festival, which Sondheim helped found and continues to champion.

Sondheim archivist Peter E. Jones serves on board of PS Classics Inc.

"Steve performs with charm and exuberance," said Jones. "Volume I showcases some of his best known songs as we're used to hearing them, but also there are several early versions of songs that were revised after the demos were recorded. There are cut songs as well, some of which were replaced by other songs that were replaced yet again! Some of these demos have circulated around for years in bootleg versions — a copy of a copy of a copy; I think people who've heard those will be impressed by the fidelity of these first generation recordings. And those who are hearing these for the first time can look forward to the intimate experience of 'sitting on the piano bench' next to one of Broadway's most legendary figures."

Jones added that subsequent volumes will reach as far back as 1946 and include material that Sondheim wrote in college as well as private songs he wrote for friends and colleagues in the 1950s.

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PS Classics Inc. is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2002 by Philip Chaffin and Tommy Krasker, who also run the commercial record label PS Classics LLC (responsible for Grammy-nominated cast albums of Assassins and Nine: The Musical, among other discs).

PS Classics Inc. "seeks to preserve the heritage of American musical theatre by locating and restoring original performance materials of forgotten works, then recording these scores with leading artists from the worlds of Broadway, opera and jazz; by working with the estates of the great songwriters to help bring their forgotten repertoire to light; and by collaborating with nonprofit theatre companies in preserving newer works that otherwise would not be recorded."

The company’s first CD, the first-ever recording of Kay Swift and Paul James' 1930 musical Fine and Dandy , was released in May 2004.

Other restoration and recording projects on the PS Classics Inc. horizon include the 1928 Walter Donaldson/Gus Kahn musical Whoopee , plus – in celebration of his centennial in 2005 – an album devoted to Jule Styne in Hollywood.

For more information, visit www.psclassics.org.

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