My favourite musical recordings of 2014

Just as I did last year I’m going to round up my 6 favourite musical theatre recordings of 2014, because there are so many CDs. And it’s always nice to know what other people recommend, right?

No, they are not in order. I don’t do orders. Not on these kind of posts at least.

1) Bridges (The Bridges of Madison County). Because: You know me. Maybe I just make that up, but listening to this recording makes you able to hear how much the musicians and singers actually loved this music – and it gives you this impression to witness something really cool about musical theatre. The score seems to become alive before your very ears, the music you are to hear when listening to this album seems to be so much more than an acustic version of dots between lines with fancy marks around them (for the record: this is not how I actually describe music.). This music breathes and appears to be something dynamic and therefore it is something more than entertaining. It’s touching, moving, tearing your heart out and stuffing it back in. And I am still pretty sure that – if you just listen carefully enough – this will change you. To test it, please expose yourself to Steven Pasquale’s amazing ‘It all fades away’, possibly listening on good headphones, high volume and just try not to crack up.

2) the Broadway recording of Rocky. It’s true, I have a special relationship with this show. It was first shown in Hamburg, Germany, I’ve listened to the German recording a couple of times, more often than not walking away, embarrassed. Anyway during my first visit in New York I heard Liz Callaway sing ‘Raining’ at 54below and suddenly it made sense. I saw it on Broadway in April then and listened to the recording. First: Anything featuring ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is great, try riding your bike across the city, uphill, in a warm-ish summer night, listening to that song! And then: In English it makes much more sense. And thirdly: Andy Karl.

3) Next to Normal (German recording). This recording has a lot of flaws. Technically it’s not good at all. The sound is uneven, sometimes you hear the space around the singers, sometims you hear props making sounds and you get to ‘enjoy’ all this funny accidents that happened to the lyrics in translation. But you also get to enjoy this raw vibe I mentioned in my post about the production and the amazing singers over and over again. And in the end of the day we are happy about every single German production being recorded and – in a way – archived for future use. And whatever my opinion on this particular recording might be, I’m happy that they made the decision to record this production. Bringing Next to Normal to Germany surely was one of the bravest decisions I’ve seen in Musical-Germany for a while.

4) Fun Home. Yes, I am excited for the Broadway arrival of Fun Home next spring and I really hope for the chance to see it! First of all: A musical with not one, but three female leads (all three of them playing the part of Alison), with book, lyrics and music by women – yes, please! Discussing gender and sexual diversity – yes, yes, yes, please! And if these reasons weren’t enough – Sydney Lucas as small Alison has came to blow us away (so have the others, but Ms Lucas definitely nails it the most), her ‘Ring of Keys’ or ‘Al for short’ are so appropriate of the age of her character and the topic. Plus I always love when you get what happens on stage, when songs are so interwoven with the story you actually have a chance to get it without reading a synopsis while listening!

5) Heathers. A show I didn’t make to see when it was playing Off-Broadway this past spring and I was there. The only free slot in my theatrical agenda was the Wednesday matinee and guess what – yes! Heathers didn’t do Wednesday afternoons. The happier I was when I bought the recording and finally got to listen to it at least. So, a show with a almost 9-minutes-long opening is almost always a winner, these 9 minutes bring us directly into the plot. For the rest of it: DEAD GIRL WALKING! Find a version of it online, for god’s sake. The reprise is even more breathtaking.

6) Big Fish. After having had a serious addiction to this recording when it came out early in 2014, I just recently went back to it, because: Andrew Lippa. Norbert Leo Butz. Kate Baldwin. And while Bridges sounds like movement, like an animal or like something living for that matter, Big Fish sounds like bright colours. And no, I don’t say that because I saw the Broadway production and that, yes, was colours. Primarily blue and yellow. The recordings sounds more like a rainbow or a splash of many different colours all at once.

What were your favourites of 2014? I’d be glad to know!🙂

Happy 2015, folks.

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