When the film version of the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music, the final collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened in March 1965, it became the highest grossing movie in history up to that time and went on to win the Academy award for best picture. The accompanying soundtrack did not do as well, probably because many households already possessed copies of the massively successful original Broadway cast album. But it did manage to hit number one and spend four-and-a-half years on the charts. (As of 2000, RCA was claiming North American sales of 11 million copies, though the album had never been certified beyond the gold level.) It was a very different recording from the Broadway LP. The main difference, of course, was the substitution of Julie Andrews for Mary Martin in the starring role of Maria, the postulant who leaves an Austrian convent to marry a wealthy naval captain with seven children. Martin, at whose behest the show was written, was a 45-year-old Broadway veteran when she started to play Maria, a real person who had been 21 when the events depicted in the show began. Martin relied on her considerable charm to mask the age difference. But she had displayed little interest in film during her career, and could hardly have been cast in the movie version after the age of 50 in any case. Andrews, though also a Broadway veteran, having starred in My Fair Lady (and, ironically, been passed over for the film version) among other shows, was only in her late 20s. Fresh from her Academy award-winning appearance in the title role of Mary Poppins, she was well-placed to play another children's nanny and proved to be superb in the film as well as on the soundtrack album (though performances gauged for the screen sometimes came off as overly exuberant on record, particularly "Do-Re-Mi"). Irwin Kostal's arrangements were much more ornate than those of Robert Russell Bennett for the Broadway show. The film version eliminated songs as "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It" that had been performed by supporting characters; also, the duet "An Ordinary Couple" was gone, replaced by "Something Good." (Hammerstein had died, and Rodgers supplied his own lyrics to this new song and to "I Have Confidence," which Andrews put across winningly.) Popular as the film may have been, the soundtrack album was worth owning primarily because of Julie Andrews, and the original Broadway cast album remained definitive. Since no edition of the album accurately credits the singers, it should be noted that Bill Lee's singing voice has been dubbed in for Christopher Plummer, who plays the romantic lead Captain von Trapp, and that it is Margery McKay who is singing, not the screen actress Peggy Wood, as Mother Abbess on "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." ~ William Ruhlmann
I was impressed with the sound and soundtrack order of the previous 30th Anniversary edition, which so improved the original CD issue. This new double 35th Anniversary edition puts most of the icing on the cake. It does make a lot of corrections, but does not completely fill a few minor voids. There are millions of people who have seen this movie soooooo many times on the screen, TV, wore out a couple of vinyl copies, etc. We know this soundtrack backwards, forwards, in our sleep, and even the macho-est of men I've heard humming My Favorite Things. This CD adds the missing original issues that were heard with the on-screen film, and only previously available via Laser Disc, or on Fox Cassette if you bought that version of the re-release on video. I have this tape, and have compared Disc 2 to it. Disc 1 is still the soundtrack that was issued for the 30th. Disc 2 uses most of the tracks from the tape and laser version. Per my tape, this new disc has omitted the DO-RE-MI REPRISE during the Folk Festival (what I affectionately call the "TEA WITH JAM & BREAD MIX"), plus some instrumental music. It is nice to have what they added. However, what is also missing is the Grand Finale to Act 1 of the film and just prior when the Baroness is looking for the Captain after she has left Maria in her room. When she is searching for the Captain before going into the Grand Ballroom and meets up with Max, the background music is playing a waltzy version of the omitted HOW CAN LOVE SURVIVE, that was in the stage show. After her conversation, she finds the Captain and the Edelweiss waltz plays while Maria sneaks away to that grand orchestral finish of Act 1. I would assume that in the future, probably on the 50th Anniversary, there will be a complete soundtrack issued including all these other missing gems. I could have probably lived without the Richard Rodgers interview added, but this could have been added as a bonus disc for initial release, then removed later leaving all the music to tell the story. Regardless of these detailed flaws, this is still a very priceless collection of 97% of all the soundtrack. From the first time I heard it in the theatre in 1967, Irwin Kostal's conducting and the final result has stayed with me all these years. It is truly magical, can put you in a good mood and will always remain a stand-out part of our film history. I highly recommend this issue.
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