Conductor: Keith Lockhart
Performer: Jason Danieley
Ensemble: Boston Pops Orchestra
  1. Main Title (Oklahoma!) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  2. My Favorite Things (The Sound of Music) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  3. The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" (Oklahoma!) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  4. Overture to Babes in Arms (Rodgers/Hart)
  5. Slaughter on 10th Avenue (On Your Toes) (Rodgers/Hart)
  6. March of the Clowns (Nursery Ballet) (Rodgers)
  7. I Have Dreamed (The King and I) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  8. Grant Avenue (Flower Drum Song) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  9. D-Day (Victory at Sea) (Rodgers)
  10. The Sound of Music (The Sound of Music) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  11. Mountain Greenery lyrics (The Garrick Gaieties of 1926) (Rodgers/Hart)
  12. The Carousel Waltz (Carousel) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
  13. Shall We Dance? (The King and I) (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
Label: Rca - #63835
Audio CD (April 23, 2002)

The more I listened to this CD, the more I was blown away by some of the arrangements and orchestrations. Some of it I'd heard before i.e. the Oklahoma! overture based on the Robert Russell Bennet film arrangement; some of it I hadn't heard quite this way like the "Babes in Arms" overture or "Surrey with a Fringe on Top" in swing time. I especially liked the "My Favorite Things" arrangement which diverges from the original. I highly recommend it because most of the arrangements/orchestrations are very powerful in their own right and you may not have heard it all before. A few of the arrangements feature newer vocalists as the other reviews indicate. I reserve comment on this one because it is always difficult to compare an unfamiliar vocalist with Julie Andrews for example.
Also, I have taped two 1 hour Rodgers specials off PBS which feature some of these performances. I'd love for PBS to put these episodes on a DVD instead of the usual pledge drive DVD fare.

Keith Lockart is certainly a solid heir to the Boston Pops of Arthur Fiedler. His performances are crisp, and lively. The Pops likes working with him, and it shows. And, I own every Keith Lockart/Boston Pops disc so far. But....although there were some interesting additions to this repertoire, especially the scenario of "Victory at Sea", I was really turned off by the so-so vocal renditions. They really detracted from the overall fun of the disc. Certainly the music of Richard Rodgers is timeless (not EVERTHING he wrote was delicious), but Lockhart missed the boat with this one. It's a neat album if you have a player that can pick and choose what you listen to, but after the first few tunes, I got a bit restless.

The two most interesting items in this collection are "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" in an effective arrangement Broadway orchestrator/arranger Hans Spialek made for Paul Whiteman and "The March of the Clowns" from "Nursery Ballet," a number from a Whiteman commission recently discovered in the bandleader's archives. Patrick Hollenbeck arranged the march for the Pops and has the style right, so it's too bad the other two movements of the original suite weren't included in this release.

Otherwise, the most satisfying selections on the disc are the Main Title from the film version of "Oklahoma!" (the work of Robert Russell Bennett), the overture to "Babes in Arms" (Don Walker's orchestration captures the spirit of the Broadway original in full orchestra terms), "D-Day" (Lockhart paces it more as a jaunty march than an epic one), and the "Carousel Waltz."

I confess that I like big-orchestra arrangements of show music even though I know I'm not supposed to, but the remaining instrumental numbers are played in arrangements (by Sammy Nestico, Don Sebesky, and Alexander Courage) that I don't like. They are mostly fussy, heavy, lacking in fun, and tinged with elements from the Big Band era that sound out of place in these surroundings. It's too bad Hollenbeck didn't do these arrangements, too. Failing that, the Pops music library must still have arrangements Bennett, Leroy Anderson, and Richard Hayman did of Rodgers scores, and I don't understand why they weren't used here. They never wear out their welcome.

The singers are uniformly disasters. Martina McBride ("My Favorite Things"), Jason Danieley ("I Have Dreamed"), and Collin Raye ("The Sound of Music") are described on the label as "vocalists." The term tells you all you need to know about their lack of any sense of the appropriate style for their numbers. They are club, not theater, singers. Their vocalizings can't hurt Rodgers, but they are jarring to the listener in the context of the rest of this disc. Their voices, as voices, are mediocre, and the arrangements (each by a different person) of the pieces don't help. (Some comparably dubious items have been included in most recent Pops recordings. Each has some interesting, unusual things along with others that don't really belong. I wonder if they are the price Lockhart has to pay in order to record the interesting stuff.)

The Boston Symphony and Pops were the orchestras I grew up with, so it hurts to have to say that this disc is such a mixed bag.

(By the way, Nelson Riddle recorded an LP of his own splendid arrangements of the principal numbers from "Oklahoma!", and I wish Capitol would resurrect it from the vaults as a salute to Rodgers's memory in his centennial year.)