Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Les Mis Album Comparison Part II

I Dreamed a Dream time. Eek!

I Dreamed a Dream
London 1985
Patti LuPone as Fantine.
The song has a lovely, sad, peaceful quality from the first moment.
LuPone sings really beautifully. The orchestrations back up nicely and softly. Oddly enough though, LuPone's voice sounds a little, just a little, hoarse during some of the higher notes in the first half of the song. Otherwise she sounds great. I like how the singing part gets bigger but the orchestra doesn't get over-the-top with it - it gets bigger but not too big. Lovely.
5 points

Vienna 1988
Begins a little more loudly than the previous one, and the instrumental has an odd little pause before Sona MacDonald starts singing. She sings pretty quietly and a little hoarsely at first, but gets lovely during the bigger notes. If this hasn't been such, now this gets completely subjective: I think I prefer LuPone's voice to MacDonald's.
Not to say MacDonald's bad, though - she's great too.
4 points

Paris 1991
Not any dramatic orchestration changes. If I know my French (which I do, really badly), it seems to me Fantine begins her song talking directly to God.
This Fantine, Louise Pitre, has a little more vibretto than the previous two, which I'm not that sure I like. But she's not bad neither - it'll be really difficult putting these women's performances into an order, because I think the ones so far have been almost as good, and because the orchestrations are pretty much the same they won't help me decide. Expect for maybe that this one has some more shrill string sounds.
3 points

Danish 1992
Ah, my most hated album so far! Ann-Mari Max Hansen, save the day, will you?
The same problem that everybody has on this CD seems to be present here too: the beginning of the singing part is almost too quiet.
Maybe Danish just isn't the ideal language to sing this in, since I think some of the moments sound odd... But it's not Hansen's fault - even though she mightn't be as good as (in my opinion of course) the previous three, she still sings very nicely. Maybe a little less vibrato would be sweet. Oh wait, did her voice just crack the tiniest bit...
The orchestrations go too big and Hansen's voice almost drowns for a moment. More evidence to suggest the mixing is this album's biggest problem.
2 points

10th Ann. 1995
Ruthie Henshall's turn to shine as Fantine. She has quite a different tone from everybody else so far, but not in a bad way - she sounds great and hits the big notes maybe the most nicely of the Fantines so far. I'm almost getting shivers here. The orchestra's very nice and big too, as espected.
And Henshall is the first one to sound really hurt, I think - in the end her voice is just oozing with bitterness.
Added claps in the end for added this-was-an-awesome-song feeling!
7 points

Dutch 2008
With a louder orchestra and Nurlaila Karim.
Again, time to listen to the lovely Dutch pronounciation, which is almost enough to get me into a good mood. Am I weird or what. But Karim sounds very lovely too, and I think she hits especially the low notes beautifully.
I'm running out of things to say here, because I think all the examples of I Dreamed a Dream have been pretty good so far (if you don't count the Danish mixing). Oh, now this gets big, louder than the ones before... Another very hurt-sounding Fantine. Great.
6 points

Live! 2010
No intro at all, a little minus for that. And an angry Fantine, Madalena Alberto.
This has a bit different feeling than the others - slightly more rushed, maybe, and definitely more angry. I'm not sure I like the change. The original sad, longing feeling is more to my liking. Also, weird emphasis on odd parts, like "autumn." The orchestration is almost too big, the silent sadness has been lost...
1 point

I'd love to rate Lovely Ladies, but the Danish one has helpfully removed that one too. But may I give some bonus points?
+ for seven days at sea to London 1985 and to 10th Ann. 1995.
+ for the creepiest laughing sailors ever to Vienna 1988.

Castle on a Cloud
You know what? No matter how good the girl singing is, I absolutely hate this song. I don't get how every CD has it, but I do think my ears might explode listening to it seven times in a row - and I know some of these kids even aren't that good.
Dear Danish CD, I almost want to give you a big fat minus just for actually including this song, but I don't think that would be quite fair.

London 1985
Zoe Hart can keep a tune, she sounds pretty much as good as this song gets.
7 points

Vienna 1988
Very clear orchestrations, not so good little Cosette - Leni Tanzer. She's a little hoarse, even though if she doesn't actually miss the notes, which I've also heard happening.
2 points

Paris 1991
This is, instead of a castle, about a doll in the shop-window. Just like the book, a plus for that! Aurelie Lebarbe ("Thebeard"?) isn't especially good, though. A little confusing how this ends in a mention of Père Noël, though - did he even exist yet?
+ for the lyrics referring to the book
2 points

Danish 1992
Back to the castle in the heavens above imaginary, and with a lot longer intro than usual. Yes, Danish CD! Take all out of the only song you should've cut, will you!
Rose Maria Kroner is maybe the worst yet - sorry. She sounds almost boy-like at points. Goodness, when will this be over...
2 points - two points for three little Cosettes, because thinking about it, these three are all equally bad.

10th Ann. 1995
Hannah Chick as little Cosette. She's one of the better ones, actually pretty nice to listen to. Points for this girl not messing the song when that odd bang happens in the background!
6 points

Dutch 2008
Tara Hetharia is, in a way, the best yet. A pretty voice and some energy to the singing. Okay, it's not canon. Cosette is a badly beaten little kid who probably feels exhausted from all that work, but somehow a little more energy makes the song nicer to listen to.
5 points

Live! 2010
Samara Clarke gets to finish this batch of sweetness. And is she sweet. She's the youngest-sounding, and somehow a little annoying.
4 points

So how's the ranking now?
London 1985: 6 + 5 + 7 = 18  
Vienna 1988: 3.5 + 4 + 2 = 9.5  
Paris 1991: 8 + 3 + 2 = 13  
Denmark 1992: 2.5 + 2 + 2 = 6.5
10th Ann. 1995: 11 + 7 + 6 = 24  
Dutch 2008: 11 + 6 + 5 = 22
Live! 2010: 14 + 1 + 4 = 19

And with bonus points it looks like...
#1: 10th Ann. 1995: 24+
#2: Dutch 2008: 22+
#3: Live! 2010: 19++
#4: London 1985: 18+
#5: Paris 1991: 13+
#6: Vienna 1988: 9.5+
#7: Denmark 1992: 6.5---

Denmark, are you even trying? Can't wait to see where this'll end!

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