Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Evita Died 62 Years Ago Today...Probably sooner had she heard this. 2.0

I posted this July 26th...but decided to rework it as well as add sound clips of this ghastly cast recording...Halfway down this entry, you'll find my Evita in 10 and a Half minute YouTube Video...Let me know if you make it to the end.

Being that today is the sixty-second anniversary of the death of Eva Peron, also known as Evita, I thought I'd post a review of the second Evita cast recording that I owned. I actually still have it but rarely...almost never listen to it.
The Korean Original Cast Recordings 2 CD Pak First Worldwide Release. Back in 1994 when I started to try and get serious about collecting cast recordings, I bought the Premiere American Cast Recording of Evita starring Patti LuPone and had the intention of purchasing the original concept recording starring Julie Covington next. The day that I was to buy my copy of the other Evita CD that was in Camelot Recordings, I saw another which I'd never seen but had to have. The grey, black, red and yellow of the cover caught my eye and it was slightly cheaper than the Julie Covington recording...So I bought it.
I was super excited, my very first recording of a show other than Phantom, in a foreign language...THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME!!! When I got home, ripped open the shrink-wrap and begin to play CD 1 on my amazing Aiwa NSX-5200 system, I realized that this CD was not well planned. It was obviously transferred from a cassette tape. The CD sounded like it was being played in a small Emerson cassette player rather than a surround sound stereo system. I tried to skip directly to my favorite songs in the show but it seems that whomever the person was that transferred and mastered this recording, either had no knowledge or ability to separate the tracks. CD One is one long track called Act One and CD Two is one long track called Act Two. That's OK, I'm sure I'll enjoy the voices and music anyway.

Unfortunately, the orchestra seems to have been comprised of three possibilities. 1. A middle school beginner orchestra. 2. People that had JUST been given the sheet music and told to play it. OR 3. Tone deaf people with no sense of rhythm. The question of "how bad could it be?" is an understatement. During Buenos Aires, the orchestra falls way out of line and the brass section seems to be doing their own thing and during the "dance" section of the song, they seem to just give up. The only thing I can say I like about the orchestrations is the disco feel the the upbeat numbers which is unique to this album.
I can't really say anything about the translations since I don't speak a stitch of the Korean language. There are a few phrases that had more syllables than notes in the music or vice versa. Every so often, I'll notice and just giggle. The voices of the actors? Really they aren't bad. Jo Young Nam is pretty enjoyable as Che. Le Kyung E's Eva is inconsistently good. She's obviously not a belter, singing mainly in her head voice...She's shrill one moment and not so much the next. The secondary roles of Magaldi, Peron and the Mistress are perfectly cast but the ensemble members, much like the orchestra seem to be under-rehearsed or drawn from a crowd of amateurs.
The outward packaging looks great, you will never suspect that the album is as pathetic as it is until you open it up. The booklet features a cast list of the 5 main roles and a brief listing of the producers, writers, directors and conductor. There's a conductor? The only cast photo is a photocopy of a page in the opening night of the Seoul production or proSUCKtion showing Jo Young Nam as Che. I find it interesting that a cast recording of a show called Evita features no photos of Evita. Shoddy inner artwork for sure.
This recording was released in the US by DRG Records, it was featured in their mid 1990's mail-order catalog as one of their best sellers...I'm sure their return policy of not accepting opened returns from unsuspecting audiophiles helped that situation. This is one of those albums that would never have made a sale had we been able to sample tracks back when it was made as we do now on the internet. Would I buy this again? NOPE...I still have the severely scratched and aged copy I bought at Camelot Records 21 or so years ago. Would I suggest this recording? Only for three reasons. 1. If you are someone with a hunger to owned EVERY recording of Evita. 2. If you don't speak any other language other than Korean. 3. If you are someone that wants a few giggles at an official cast recording that screams of mediocre on every level.

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