ON THE RECORD: "A Little Night Music" (Soundtrack) and the 1961 Revue Seven Come Eleven

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15 Sep 2013

The one extra-positive element in the film is the Charlotte of Diana Rigg. Best known at the time for her stint as Emma Peel in TV's "The Avengers" and her role in the 1969 James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," Rigg had earlier started her career with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She returned to the stage in the early '70s with Abelard and Heloise and Tom Stoppard's Jumpers. In "Night Music," she not only acts her role delectably but sings jolly well — so much so that when Sondheim's Follies finally made it to the West End in 1987, Rigg shone as the icy Phyllis Stone. Added tracks on the new "Night Music" include an expanded version of Rigg's "Every Day a Little Death," containing the carriage ride section not heard on the original LP.

The soundtrack album, which Masterworks has now brought us, is checkered. Any recording of Sondheim has natural interest, certainly, and the expanded orchestrations sound very nice (although those of us who know the score might wince every time an interior section of precious Sondheim is cut). The highlight is a new song written for the film, "The Glamorous Life." The song in the show of this title is a highly enjoyable group number, featuring Desirée as she packs up the luggage. The song in the film is a solo for the daughter Fredericka, in which she talks about her mother's glamorous (?) life. Both songs, let me say, are personal favorites; they brilliantly accomplish what they set out to accomplish, with enchanting music and delicious lyrics, and I couldn't possibly favor one over the other. The role in the film was played by Chloe Franks, but dubbed by Elaine Tomlinson. (Tomlinson also did some dubbing for Taylor and Lesley-Ann Down, who played the child-wife Anne.)

Where the recording sparkles — for me anyway — is whenever Cariou starts to sing. We know what he's going to sing and how he's going to sound, yes. But his performances of "Now" and "You Must Meet My Wife" are alive, fresh, and most welcome to us fans of the original Broadway cast album. The same can be said for "It Would Have Been Wonderful," his duet with Guittard. As for Cariou, the "Night Music" film marked the end of a stage of his career. Next up: Sondheim and Prince's Sweeney Todd.

Cover art

Seven Come Eleven [Masterworks Broadway]

A fellow named Julius Monk dominated the Manhattan cabaret world from 1956-68, devising and producing a series of sophisticated late-night revues. Four Below led the parade, followed by Take Five, Demi-Dozen, Pieces of Eight, Dressed to the Nines and more. Most of these revues were recorded, albeit by small labels. His Fall 1961 offering, Seven Come Eleven, came from Columbia, and thus is the first of the Monk revues to come to CD.


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