In recent months, the U.K.'s Dutton Vocalion label has reissued a number of rare quadraphonic mixes on SACD, including titles from Poco, Johnnie Taylor, The Guess Who, The Hues Corporation, Rick Derringer, Art Garfunkel, and more. The label has just announced its slate for September, highlighted by the SACD debut of the quad mix of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music and two film score releases from movie maestro Charles Gerhardt. All of Vocalion's quadraphonic SACDs are hybrid discs, meaning that the stereo layers can be played in standard CD players.
Director-producer Harold Prince's production of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and librettist Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music opened at Broadway's Shubert Theatre on February 25, 1973, inaugurating a run of 603 performances. The lush, romantic musical comedy in waltz time - Sondheim wrote every song in a variation of 3/4-time - picked up five Tony Awards including nods for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Patricia Elliott) and Best Actress in a Musical (Glynis Johns). A Little Night Music introduced perhaps Sondheim's most famous composition, the bittersweet "Send in the Clowns," which Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins turned into a Grammy-winning standard. Columbia Records picked up the recording rights to the show, releasing the Original Broadway Cast Recording (featuring Johns, Elliott, Len Cariou, Laurence Guittard, and Hermione Gingold) in April 1973 in both stereo and quadraphonic surround. Vocalion's SACD release marks the digital-era premiere of the quad mix. No less an eminence than Columbia's onetime president Goddard Lieberson personally helmed the album with Thomas Z. Shepard as Associate Producer; Jay David Saks supervised the quad remix of Ray Moore. The cast recording of A Little Night Music earned a Grammy for Best Show Album; now, it can be enjoyed anew in four-channel splendor. (Might Vocalion reissue the immersive quad mix of Sondheim's Company next?)
A Little Night Music is joined on Vocalion by two reissues from conductor Charles Gerhardt which were originally released back-to-back in 1974. As our own Mike Duquette explained in 2010, "the American conductor, who made a name for himself as a producer/compiler of LP box sets sold through Reader's Digest, founded The National Philharmonic Orchestra, a crack team of London session musicians, in 1970. Within two years, the unit was earning high marks in the film world for 'The Classic Film Scores' series, meticulously arranged and re-recorded suites and cues from great films that could often stand toe to toe with the original recordings. The series, a staple of RCA's discography from 1972 into the 1980s, included recordings of music by Max Steiner, Miklós Rózsa, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman, Bernard Hermann, John Williams and many others. (Gerhardt's approaches to each film in the original Star Wars trilogy are essential to any fan of Williams' work for the space series.)"
Vocalion has reissues of Waxman's Sunset Boulevard (joined by other Waxman music from The Bride of Frankenstein, Prince Valiant, A Place in the Sun, Rebecca, The Philadelphia Story, and more) and Herrmann's Citizen Kane (accompanied by Herrmann suites from Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, White Witch Doctor, and Hangover Square - the latter a major influence on Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd). The Herrmann disc boasts one bonus track: a 1977 recording of "The Attack on the Mountain Stronghold" from the score to King of the Khyber Rifles. Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa and pianist Joaquin Achucarro are also featured.
All of the above, plus a handful of classical releases, are available now directly from Dutton Vocalion and at the below Amazon links (fulfilled by the label)!
- Overture and Night Waltz
- The Glamorous Life
- You Must Meet My Wife
- In Praise of Women
- Every Day a Little Death
- A Weekend in the Country
- The Sun Won't Set
- It Would Have Been Wonderful
- Perpetual Anticipation
- Send in the Clowns
- The Miller's Son
- Finale (Reprise: Send in the Clowns and Night Waltz)
- Prince Valiant Suite
- A Place in the Sun Suite
- Creation of the Female Monster (The Bride of Frankenstein)
- Sunset Boulevard Suite
- Elegy for Strings (Old Acquaintance)
- Rebecca Suite
- The Philadelphia Story Suite
- The Ride to Dubno (Taras Bulba)
- The Death Hunt (On Dangerous Ground)
- Citizen Kane Suite
- Beneath the 12-Mile Reef Suite
- Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra (Hangover Square)
- White Witch Doctor Suite
- The Attack on the Mountain Stronghold (King of the Khyber Rifles) (from The Spectacular World of Classic Film Scores, RCA LP RL 42005, 1977)