BWW CD Reviews: Jay Records' Complete ONE TOUCH OF VENUS is a Sterling Recording of a Forgotten Favorite
Jay Records, with the support of The Kurt Weill Foundation, digitally released the first complete recording of composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Ogden Nash's score to the 1943 musical ONE TOUCH OF VENUS on October 7, 2013, and the sterling recording had its physical CD release on May 13, 2014. Originally announced over ten years ago, fans eagerly anticipated the album for years. Luckily for us listeners, the recording was well worth the wait. Now, if only we could see the show revived on Broadway in the near feature.
My first introduction to ONE TOUCH OF VENUS came from Paul Hope's Bayou City Concert Musicals staged concert version of the musical in Houston in September 2012. Since that impressive production, I haven't been able to get enough of this delightful and charming musical. I recall Paul Hope talking about how his unyielding search for recordings of this music turned up fruitless, causing his company to go into rehearsals without ever having heard all of the music in the score. That will never be an issue again thanks to Jay Records and their brilliant recording of this music, which includes the ballet sequences, the incidental music, and the underscoring as well.
As if recording the full score wasn't grand enough, Jay Records' album is a true tour de force as it stars Melissa Errico in the role of Venus, the role that made her a star when she did it for the 1996 Encores! concert revival of the show. On the disc, her voice is captivating and sparkles with strength and sensuality on such hit songs as "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" and "Speak Low." Her gorgeous instrument charms on numbers like "Foolish Heart" and the sweetly crooned "That's Him." Lastly, accompanied by just a piano on a bonus number that was never fully orchestrated, Melissa Errico makes "Love In a Mist" a tender and gorgeous musical moment on the album as well.
Love interest Rodney Hatch is pristinely sung by Brent Barrett, whose lyric baritone is charismatic and deliciously warm on the recording. He is radiant on ebullient songs like "How Much I Love You" and "Wooden Wedding." Meanwhile, he sings numbers like "Speak Low" and "Speak Low (Reprise)" with a tangible and earnest passion, sure to make any listener swoon.
Rounding out the leading roles, Ron Raines' rumbling bass notes add a dastardly air to his portrayal of Whitelaw Savory. His rendition of numbers like "West Wind" are evocatively emotional, showing that even this hardened character once loved with all of his being. Judy Kaye is spritely and humorous as Mrs. Kramer, making the witty songs like "Way Out West In Jersey" fantastically comedic. Victoria Clark's acerbic, tongue-in-cheek paean to the troubles of the rich on "Very, Very, Very" is a standout on the album too.
Because of the lengthy recording process, the National Symphonic Orchestra is a conducted by both John Owen Edwards and James Holmes across the two discs. Both ensure that the music gets our toes tapping and heartstrings buzzing. The tone and mood conveyed by the orchestra is always spot on, keeping our hearts and souls perfectly in tune with the music and the story that surrounds it.
Once a celebrated and admired musical, ONE TOUCH OF VENUS is almost completely forgotten nowadays. Yet, with well-reviewed productions at City Center Encores! and Bayou City Concert Musicals, and now with this dazzling double album, hopefully the sumptuously romantic, tender, and comedic ONCE TOUCH OF VENUS will find a new fan following. Whether you are a diehard fan of musical theater or just a casual enjoyer of the medium there is no reason for not owning Jay Records decadent first complete recording of ONE TOUCH OF VENUS.
Jay Record's complete ONE TOUCH OF VENUS Cast Recording can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. For more information about the recording and other releases from Jay Records please visit http://jayrecords.com.
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