Best CHESS recording?

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Mamie
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Best CHESS recording?#1
Posted: 4/24/08 at 9:21pm
I'd like to hear your opinions on this. I love the music but have never purchased a recording of CHESS. Do you prefer the London cast or the Broadway cast recording - and why?
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re: Best CHESS recording?#2
Posted: 4/24/08 at 9:28pm
The London has a much fuller sound and has several tracks not on the Bway cast recording.
The only addition to the Bway recording is Someone Else's Story.
While that's a good song, it's not enough of a reason for me to reccomend it over the London cast.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#2
Posted: 4/24/08 at 9:33pm
The show was fairly reworked between the two recordings, and I would recommend getting both. Forced to choose, Judy Kuhn tips the scales for me in favor of the OBC. She sounds glorious, and has a much warmer voice than Paige.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#3
Posted: 4/24/08 at 9:44pm
I like the Danish recording.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#4
Posted: 4/24/08 at 10:04pm
I don't have much use for the Broadway cast recording. The original is a much more polished record with a bigger orchestra and chorus (as it was a concept record and not an actual show recording.)

The Broadway is pretty limp comparitively and only Philip Casnoff makes it even remotely entertaining, at least to me.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#5
Posted: 4/25/08 at 12:03am
The OLC has a great sound and the choral singing is excellent, and it is far more complete than the OBC.

That being said, the OBC has my favorite version of the Quartet, with the counterpoint section at the end, not to mention Someone Else's Story, which isn't on the OLC, but the OBC doesn't have Merano, which is a pity, since it's a great opener.


HOWEVER, the Danish cast recording is far more complete than any other and even includes tracks like Der Kleine Franz, but it also has a lot of changes to the original material and if I recall correctly, does not have the cool counterpoint section at the end of the Quartet that I think gives the piece it's power, and the Endgame isn't as good as the one on the OLC, in my opinion. Oh, don't be fooled by it's Danish-ness, it's in English.

In addition there are the Swedish demos and the Gothenberg Concert, which are great to have, but by no means are they essential or definitive.

If you HAD to choose one, I would suggest the Danish recording just because it is so complete and gives you a good idea of the show as a whole.

Sorry about the long rant, Chess is one of my very favorite shows, I've done it a number of times in both the London and B'way versions and I love it!
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re: Best CHESS recording?#6
Posted: 4/25/08 at 1:24am
I also prefer the Danish tour recording. The orchestrations are more traditional, as opposed to the kind of cheesy-80s instrumentals on the Broadway recording (synthesizers and electric bass versus a real orchestra). It is more complete; it's nearly an hour longer than the OBC and half an hour longer than the OLC.

If your choices are just between London versus Broadway, I'd say London, but if you can find it, check out the Danish recording as well.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#7
Posted: 4/25/08 at 1:44am
The Broadway cast album was withdrawn from the catalogue 10 years ago (at the request of the authors) so it isn't really in the running. I agree, Judy Kuhn and David Careroll make it worth tracking down but not for $189!

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

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re: Best CHESS recording?#8
Posted: 4/25/08 at 2:51am
I agree with taz on this one. I prefer London. Then again, I haven't listened to much of the Danish one, so all I have to compare it to is the Broadway version, which isn't as good in my opinion.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#9
Posted: 4/25/08 at 2:58am
I would definitely recommend the Danish Recording first and foremost, but based on availability would advise the London recording over the Broadway one.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#10
Posted: 4/25/08 at 5:01am
HOWEVER, the Danish cast recording is far more complete than any other and even includes tracks like Der Kleine Franz, but it also has a lot of changes to the original material

Not exactly. In structure, at least, the Danish recording is 100% the most faithful of any recording to the original London production -- which didn't at all follow the structure of the original concept album. It's not exact, as with the addition of Someone Else's Story and a few other changes, but it's definitely really close to the full original presentation of the musical. I think it's the best version of the story, personally, so that's one of the reasons I like that recording most (the others being completeness, better orchestrations and an overall strong cast).

Between the London concept album and the OBCR, though, I'd definitely go with London. Korberg is pretty much unbeatable as Anatoly, and I love Paige and Head as well. The orchestrations are total cheese, but it's just...fun. And that version of "Endgame" is, as someone else said, really great. It almost seems like the drabness of the Broadway production translates to the recording, which is unfortunate (although Kuhn is very good).
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re: Best CHESS recording?#11
Posted: 4/25/08 at 8:31am
I totally Agree, the Danish one is the best, BY FAR.

although the more recent Swedish one has 2 new songs that are hauntingly beautiful (although I have no idea what they are about)
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re: Best CHESS recording?#12
Posted: 4/25/08 at 8:45am
The Danish recording is my least favorite. Puny orchestrations and some really horrible accents and voices, especially Freddie. It is the most complete version of one of the rewritten books of the show (though not like the versions I've seen) and that is something, but I prefer the lush full orchestrations and the voices of the OLC or the Gothenberg concert. I also enjoy the Broadway recording if just for Judy Kuhn and the Swedish recording is lovely.

People really think the Danish orchestrations are good? Really??? I just don't see it AT ALL.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#13
Posted: 4/25/08 at 9:20am
Iíve never heard the Danish recording, though hearing all of this praise for it here has defiantly peaked my interest. I do have the OBCR and the Concept recording and canít express how infinitely better the Concept recording is. Even more so than Rent or Hair, witch are always praised for bringing contemporary music to Broadway, Chessís score really sounds like pop music of the time. Unfortunately when they took the show to Broadway they softened the sound and tried to make it sound more like a Broadway score. As a result the Broadway recording sounds very thin and dull by comparison.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#14
Posted: 4/25/08 at 9:32am
If you're a Josh Groban or Idina Menzel fan, you might as well wait to see if the concert version they're doing in London will be recorded/released. It is rumored to be recorded.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#15
Posted: 4/25/08 at 9:34am
Yeah, there's also a recording of the Actor's Fund concert floating around, but it's not that great.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#16
Posted: 4/25/08 at 9:44am
Or that legal. re: Best CHESS recording?
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re: Best CHESS recording?#17
Posted: 4/25/08 at 9:45am
The OLC is glorious, and I think Paige, who is hit or miss for me, is at her best. I also prefer Head as Freddie, and it's a toss up between Koerberg and Carroll. The book and lyrics are better, especially the Mountain Duet. I hated what they did to the book and lyrics for Broadway.

The only reason to get the Broadway cd is for Judy Kuhn's wonderful vocals. Someone Else's Story, while a fine song, doesnt feel like it fits, especially true onstage, imo.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#18
Posted: 4/25/08 at 9:54am
Great. After reading these posts I have to add more CDs to my wish list. I have been wondering about this show but one doesn't hear much about it around here.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#19
Posted: 4/25/08 at 10:28am
It is rumored to be recorded.

What rumor? From anyone actually involved or just fans who wish the show would be recorded? First I've heard of it.

Someone Else's Story, while a fine song, doesnt feel like it fits, especially true onstage, imo.

Really? To me, it sounded like the song was always part of the show. Classic ABBA melody and arrangement. When I first saw a regional production of the show, I thought it fit the book and score much better than Heaven Help My Heart, which was always one of my least favorite songs. Not to mention that I feel it really weakens the character of Florence.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#20
Posted: 4/25/08 at 11:21am
I have both, but tend to listen to the OBC more frequently.

Frontrowcenter, why would the authors pull it from the catalog?
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re: Best CHESS recording?#21
Posted: 4/25/08 at 11:25am
I saw THE best production of Chess at a theater waaaaaay uptown. Florence was played by Kathleen Rowe McAllen, who I had fallen in love with from her incredible performance in Aspects of Love.

I remember there being a letter from Tim Rice in the playbill, an insert, about how this is the production he envisioned. It was an incredibly intimate show and I loved it. I went back to see it about four times even though it took me longer to get there by subway than it did to see the show. but I think I remember Rice saying in the insert that changes were made to the Broadway lyrics and book without his permission.
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re: Best CHESS recording?#22
Posted: 4/25/08 at 11:27am
Really, imo.

I dont think she needs the song, or the reprise of Anthem. It's all part of the Americanized book. I think it could've been a bigger hit if they had kept the original book, had a better set design, and Pity the Child wasnt played with a camera covering Freddy (in other words, better direction.)

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re: Best CHESS recording?#23
Posted: 4/25/08 at 11:32am
bkcollector, I saw that same production. I also saw the production at Papermill and the first national tour featuring Carolee Carmello. Out of the four productions I saw (including the original Broadway), I preferred the national tour.
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Updated On: 4/25/08 at 11:32 AM
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re: Best CHESS recording?#24
Posted: 4/25/08 at 11:34am
What I've done is put all the recordings on my ipod and then made a playlist of how I think the show SHOULD go (I know, presumptious).

So I put the music in the order I feel it should be in and insert the best performances from each recording, and then stuff that doesn't make my cut gets put in an appendix after the finale, like extra material. It's like making your own mix of the show.

In fact I do that with a lot of shows, especially when one recording isn't complete enough, like She Loves Me.