The CD features original Jonathan Tunick and Peter Matz orchestrations from the Yeston stage shows, plus new charts by Larry Hochman. John McDaniel, the disc's music director, accompanies at the piano on several tunes, as does composer Yeston and PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker. Krasker and McDaniel co-produced the disc.
"The Maury Yeston Songbook" includes selections from Nine, Titanic, Grand Hotel, the song cycle, December Songs and the Old Testament-inspired In the Beginning. It also includes five songs that have never been recorded.
Performers on the 20-track disc include Christine Andreas, Laura Benanti, Betty Buckley, Brent Barrett, Liz Callaway, Philip Chaffin, Christine Ebersole, Eden Espinosa, Christopher Fitzgerald, Sutton Foster, Michael Holland, Brian d'Arcy James, Howard McGillin, Alice Ripley and Johnny Rodgers. The disc was recorded Nov. 4-5, 2002.
The tracks include:
"No Moon" (from Titanic, sung by Howard McGillin) *
The disc's release coincides with the first week of performances of the Roundabout Theatre Company staging of Yeston's Nine at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre. PS Classics is recording that cast album March 31; it will be the young label's first Broadway cast album.
"We started out with 150 songs and whittled it down to 30 and then to 20 favorites," McDaniel previously told Playbill On-Line, about "The Maury Yeston Songbook." "I think he gets to the emotion of a song in a beautiful way, I keep being stunned. I wasn't familiar with his Phantom, but the song, 'Home,' I can't get out of my head — it's sweeping and lovely..."
Although Yeston has suggested songs for the disc, the composer told Playbill On-Line the programming of the CD was up to McDaniel and Krasker.
Krasker explained, "I think people will find lots of great surprises on this CD — songs they've never heard from shows they didn't know about, songs in different versions than the ones commonly performed. That doesn't mean that we won't include plenty of Maury's best-known tunes as well, but John and I are hoping even the most devoted music theatre fans will be constantly surprised and pleased."< P> Krasker said, "I want to be able to say to people who only know Maury's Broadway shows, 'You think you know the Maury Yeston songbook but you don't.' There's so much else we're going to be including."
Krasker and Yeston have a professional and personal past: "My first job in New York was rehearsal pianist on Nine in 1981, although I had met Maury about five years before that, when he was head of the music department at Yale," Krasker said. "I continued to assist him on most of his projects through the mid-80s, and it was probably sometime around 1985 that I first said to him, 'You know, there really should be a recording of all of your best tunes.' Finally, 17 years later, with PS Classics, I'm finally in a position to help that recording happen."