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Music News 09/03/2014

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Signature Theatre has built a national reputation (and won a Tony) for its musicals, especially Sondheim musicals. Signature is celebrating its 25th anniversary with another Sondheim production that’s getting raves—a staging of Sunday in the Park with George. It premiered on Broadway on May 2, 1984, with music and lyrics by Mr. Sondheim, and book by James Lapine; the two also won a Pulitzer for Best Drama for the musical. Listen to the original cast recording of Sunday in the Park with George (Sony Masterworks Broadway, $9.98) with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters.

Sondheim’s breakthrough came in 1957, writing lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s music for West Side Story. There is a terrific new concert version of West Side Story (SFS Media, 2 CDs, Super-Audio, $43.98), recorded live by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, with vocalists are Alexandra Silber and Cheyenne Jackson. Mr. Thomas grew up in a musical theater family and had Bernstein as a conducting mentor; his unique skills bring out the full richness of the score.

 

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Ute Lemper, Forever: The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda (Steinway, $17.99) – Ute Lemper can sing German cabaret, French chanson, and Broadway standards with conviction. She recently expanded her repertoire with an Astor Piazzolla album, and now she has composed melodies (co-written with Marcelo Nisinman) to some of Pablo Neruda’s love poems. Singing in Spanish (with some songs partially in English and French), she is accompanied by her band featuring piano and strings, augmented by guitar, bandoneón, charango, and the cajón.

Ravi Shankar, A Night at St. John the Divine: Nine Decades, Vol. 4 (East Meets West, $20.98) – On August 6, 1976, sitarist Ravi Shankar celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first US appearance by organizing a concert featuring many Indian musicians at St. John the Divine in New York. The concert ended at dawn with a set by Shankar and Alla Rakha on tablas. The 44-minute Cathedral Multani is the centerpiece, alongside Cathedral Vachaspati.