This is the first Elisabeth album, recorded a few months before the show premiered in 1992, and it is still one of my favourites. In fact, I'd rate it as one of the best recordings of any show I own. It comes highly recommended, even for people who don't usually like listening to recordings in languages they don't understand! And the cast is simply phenomenal.
I'd heard for a long time that Katarina Witt had once skated to Ich gehör nur mir, but only at the end of August 1998 did I learn that it was supposedly an English recording of the song, sung by Pia Douwes, and apparantly released as a single but long out of print. Within a week, I had a sound file of it; I love the net! :) Unfortunately, the lyrics are the same as the awful ones on Being Alive (see below), only this time since it's Douwes singing, we actually understand all the words (whereas Rudolz's accent makes it difficult at times, thank goodness!). In this case, that's a Bad Thing.
This album comes close to the Original Vienna in terms of both cast and overall sound quality, in my opinion. The song selection is slightly different, and the cast isn't quite up to the standards of the original, but it's highly enjoyable nonetheless, and another favourite.
This complete live recording is different from the European productions in a few ways. The cast is entirely female (done by Takarazuka), for instance. What I find more distracting, however, is all the changes made to the show itself. The insertion of a new song for der Tod/Halál/Toto--also on the Hungarian recording--is only the most obvious of these. A lot of dialogue has been added, sometimes in the middle of a song, the Gar nichts scene has been moved to later in the act, and one scene (Haß!) has been cut entirely (although in this particular case, I don't really mind, since I find the scene painful to sit through; under other circumstances I might question just why this scene was cut, but this production has so many changes, that I can just accept it); there are also changes in which characters sing certain lines. By now, I know the original score so well that these changes are difficult to ignore; the voices are generally good--cute Sisi (especially when younger), and probably the best young Rudolf I've heard; Sophie sounds way too young, though--and someone who wasn't as familiar with the Austrian version would probably enjoy this recording just fine. Well, except perhaps for the bizarre upbeat pop megamix-like reprises of half the show at the end! One thing I do really like about the Japanese version, however, is Sie passt nicht (sorry, I don't know the Japanese titles). While I've never liked the song on the other recordings, here it has something of a fairy tale quality to it, which I find rather pleasant.
This, too, is a recording of the full show. To be honest, I almost never listen to this recording, as I very strongly dislike most of the cast. Maya Hakvoort's Elisabeth is a melodramatic, spoiled brat from her very first scene, which makes it impossible to care about what happens to her. In addition, Hakvoort has a habit of making up her own vocal line seemingly whenever she feels like it, so some of the songs are practically unrecognisable! Bruno Grassini--an understudy--makes a good Lucheni, but can't approach Ethan Freeman or Földes Tamás in the role. Leon van Leeuwenberg's Franz Joseph is rather weak, as is Thomas Harke's adult Rudolf. As for der Tod...Addo Kruizinga, who does actually have a decent voice, doesn't show that here. He takes the "Death as rock star" idea far too literally, both in his vocal quality (very rough, and a bit thin, with more "screaming" than is really called for) and in his interpretation. He turns a perfectly lovely, fascinating character into something that is simply evil. Which means you don't care about him any more than you do about Sisi, so the big finale--their long-awaited union--has little or no impact. If you don't care about these characters, why should you care if they are together or not?
Actually, this is the one recording I haven't been able to find yet. Nor do I know anyone who is able to make me a temporary copy, so I have nothing to say about this cast or the recording itself. Perhaps after my next trip abroad!
This is an amazing recording! Except for being only 55 minutes long, that is. Pia Douwes sounds better than ever; check out the end of Mijn leven is van mij (Ich gehör nur mir) for proof. And at last there's a recording of her singing Gar nichts. Stanley Burleson's a marvellous Death, even Addo Kruizinga isn't as bad as Rudolf as I'd feared (and most of what I didn't like is in his physical acting, so it's not apparant from the CD). Incidentally, there is also a Dutch promo CD with material not on the cast album (that was only available as a give-away, from what I understand), and a single of Mijn leven is van mij, which includes an .mpeg of scenes from the show.
Much the same as the other Takarazuka recordings.
These are not much like the Takarazukas! For starters, they have actual men. Once more, the song order is slightly different; and there's another new song, this time for Elisabeth.
While it's true I've only listened to this a few times, I don't much care for it. Douwes and Kröger sound better on the Dutch and original Vienna recordings, respectively, and I don't especially like the "new" cast members. Worse, I really, really miss the original orchestrations. Give me real instruments over electronic ones any day! Even the tracks that don't sound all electronic are very thin, musically. Additionally, there seems to be some use of echo effects with Kröger's voice, which I strongly dislike... They've incorporated some of the changes from the Dutch production--such as in the Prolog, which I vastly prefer in the original version--and made some lyric changes that seem unnecessary. The new song sounds like "every German Eurovision song ever", and is hence utterly forgettable. I don't doubt that some people will disagree, but IMO this is a skippable recording.
This CD is simply awful. I stumbled across it in a department store on my first day in Germany for about 14DM, and decided to buy it just because it was Elisabeth. Never saw it again, in all the stores we visited in Germany and Austria! And now that I've heard it, I can see why--and why it was so cheap. Anyone who has heard the Tring studio recording of Les Misérables will know what I'm talking about when I say that this is even worse. I think there are only two--at most three--singers on the album, which leads to bizarre situations like Die Schatten werden länger becoming a solo, rather than a duet between der Tod and Rudolf. And neither of those two (or three) people can truly sing, of course! I barely managed to finish listening to the whole recording once; I plan never to attempt a second time.
This is a live concert album starring three members of the original Vienna cast--Uwe Kröger (der Tod), Viktor Gernot (Franz Joseph), and Marika Lichter (ensemble)--plus Vienna's second Elisabeth, Maya Hakvoort. The selections from the show which they performed are Der letzte Tanz, Ich gehör nur mir, Nur kein Genieren, about half of Boote in der Nacht, and Der Schleier fällt. For the most part, these renditions are extremely disappointing for me, although I do believe Hakvoort does Ich gehör better here than she did on the live cast album. On the other hand, several of the non-Elisabeth numbers on this recording are excellent, so I personally feel that overall it's very much worth a listen.
This album, produced by Sound of Music, contains just one Elisabeth track, albeit a bizarre one: Ich gehör nur mir, sung in English, by a man. Yes, that's right, Sisi's big number is done by Hartwig Rudolz, whose voice just isn't right for it. (I have nothing against the idea of this song being done by a man, in theory; in fact, I'd love to hear Anthony Warlow perform it. But Rudolz was not a good choice for this song, in my opinion.) On top of that, the translation is simply dreadful and should be avoided at all costs. For that matter, the rest of this album is less than impressive, as well, and certainly not worth paying import prices for.
This is Uwe Kröger's second solo album, containing Der letzte Tanz and Die Schatten werden länger (with Helmut Lotti doing Rudolf's part). Awful. I hate to say it, but it's true. The arrangements are too strange to be simply "bizarre", Lotti's just plain bad, and, much as I would like to say otherwise, not even Kröger sounds very good here! I just don't understand it; his performance on the original cast album is simply amazing, so I don't see how he could have become so...horrible. Okay, not as bad as on In Love With Musical, where Der letzte Tanz sounds like he was trying to out-rock-star Addo Kruizinga, but it's still far from his normal, brilliant self.
Another from Sound of Music. Included are versions of Kitsch (sung by Maik Lohse) and Die Schatten werden länger (Lohse and Bernie Blanks). It's hard to judge fairly when distracted by the horrible English lyrics, but if you ignore them, I'd say these tracks are acceptable. Schatten doesn't come close to the original Vienna cast album, of course, or even the Hungarian, IMO, but I think it's definitely better than Addo Kruizinga and Thomas Harke on the live Vienna! I think there are more good versions of Kitsch available than Schatten (possibly because there have been more Luchenis I've liked without being any I absolutely *love*), so for that song there are more recordings I'd recommend before this one. In any case, the lyrics are still awful, but at least the voices aren't quite as mis-matched to the songs as on Being Alive....*shrug*
The song selection for the Elisabeth portion of this concert is the same as on the In Love With Musical CDs, but overall they're far better-performed. I definitely think that these versions of Ich gehör nur mir and Boote in der Nacht are easily the best I've heard; Pia Douwes in particular sounds amazing, very different from on the cast album. I have, however, about given up on the idea of ever hearing a decent Der letzte Tanz from Uwe Kröger outside of the cast album....Ah well. Highly recommended anyway!