These orchestral suites are terrific: Symphonic Suites by Andrew Lloyd Webber is sure to be one of my albums of the year
Andrew Lloyd Webber Symphonic Suites Decca, out now
If you love big show tunes played by a symphony orchestra-sized band, this spectacular recording, set down last April in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, is one for you.
The recording team of Peter Cobbin and Kirsty Whalley surpassed themselves. Your reviewer is not afraid to confess that I played stuff like Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Evita, 1976), The Music Of The Night (Phantom Of The Opera, 1986) and With One Look (Sunset Boulevard, 1993) over and over again, enjoying them more each time.
Because these splendid orchestral suites by Andrew Cottee for his 81-piece orchestra returns these great Lloyd Webber musicals to an earlier tradition, established more than 70 years ago by Robert Russell Bennett, the greatest Broadway orchestrator and arranger.
In his liner note, Andrew Lloyd Webber (above) writes: ‘For me this is the triumphant and hopeful return of live music, theatre and entertainment around the world.’
He orchestrated more than 300 ‘Broadway operas’, and with the best of them, not only did the orchestrations for the show itself, but made 15-to-20-minute ‘symphonic pictures’, so that symphony orchestras in the concert hall could get in on the act.
He was particularly successful with Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. Rodgers was once asked why he didn’t orchestrate his shows himself. With admirable candour, he replied: ‘Well I could, but why would I when Bob Bennett does it so much better?’
Along similar lines, Lloyd Webber gives Cottee his head here. And these orchestral suites, each more than 20 minutes long, are terrific, especially Phantom. Simon Lee, the music director, gets really exciting playing from his pick-up band, and this is sure to be one of my albums of the year.
In his liner note, Lloyd Webber writes: ‘For me this is the triumphant and hopeful return of live music, theatre and entertainment around the world.’ Good on you, Andrew.