The first thing that individuals can hear about this revival of Sweeney Todd is the power of the vocals of each of the actors in this musical. Of particular note is Patti LuPone, who brings a force to the musical that is only matched by Michael Cervaris’ title role. Beyond the impressive vocal tone of each actor, what should impress listeners further is that each of the major players also play instruments during all of the tracks.
For example, Cervaris plays guitar while LuPone plays percussion and tuba. While there are more traditional types of tracks (“Poor Thing”, “My Friends”), there are tour-de-forces that will get all individuals singing along after the first or second listen (“The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”). The only thing interesting about the actual layout of the double-disc is that the second disc only has a few (9) tracks compared to the much fuller 17 track beginning. What results are two short discs that leave individuals continually messing with the changer. “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir” is an interesting track because of the different time signature of the track. This is not the traditional style of track on “Sweeney Todd”, but rather something that really has a unique sound amongst a collection of solid track. The use of dissonance during the track (exemplified by the choruses of male and female vocals throwing in) really builds up the energy for the second half of the first disc. The medley of styles that find themselves on the instrumentation of “Sweeney Todd” are nothing less than impressive.
At times taking on an Italian style (“The Contest”), “Sweeney Todd” never once fails to intrigue and impress listeners. “Johanna” is another high point in this musical, due to the sharp instrumental exclamations that make up such a large section of this track. The rapidly-shifting emotions present on the track work with the instrumentation to kick up the intensity another notch. By the end of this disc, individuals are worn out, weary from the barrage of different styles and sounds that have taken place over the last hour and a half. Individuals might be partial to the first cast of Sweeney Todd, but this re-vision of the musical is no slouch. The emotional and instrumental fury is really enough to bring more interest into this musical and keep it playing for years to come; this recording shows the vitality of the show with crystal-clear sound.
Top Tracks: Kiss Me, Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir
OST: Sweeney Todd / 2005 Nonesuch / 26 Tracks / http://www.nonesuch.com / Reviewed 28 February 2006