Original Broadway Cast, 1947 (RCA) (5 / 5) This is one of the most exciting cast albums of the pre-LP era. It was RCA’s first stab at Broadway, and although the mono sound is antique by today’s standards, it’s crisp for its day. The orchestra seems augmented for the recording, and Franz Allers’ conducting is rousing. David Brooks plays Tommy, a world-weary romantic who, with his cynical friend Jeff, stumbles upon a Scottish village that comes to life for only one day every 100 years. Tommy falls in love with the lass Fiona, played by Marion Bell. The two leads combine legitimate vocal training and a full-bodied Broadway sound with believable acting and unaffected diction. They soar through the magnificent Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe songs “Heather on the Hill” and “Almost Like Being in Love.” Lee Sullivan as Charlie Dalrymple delivers impeccable renditions of ”I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean” and the wistful ballad “Come to Me, Bend to Me.” Since these recordings were originally released as a 78-rpm set, the score is truncated, but the cuts were made so carefully that the album doesn’t sound incomplete. It’s a vibrant reading of highlights of a great score that has all the freshness of a new Broadway smash by two songwriters who went on to more than fulfill their promise. — Gerard Alessandrini
Film Soundtrack, 1954 (MGM/Rhino-Turner) (2 / 5) MGM’s screen version of Brigadoon was misguided in many ways. Lerner and Loewe’s great score is not well served here. The orchestrations sound transparent and timid, and the casting of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in what were rich singing roles in the Broadway show transformed them into dancing roles, causing some beautiful ballads to be discarded. (So were both of the character Meg Brockie’s songs, because they were considered too risqué for 1954 movie audiences.) However, some of what remains is robustly performed. The dance music might entertain those who love “The MGM Musical Sound,” and if you’re a big Gene Kelly fan, you may enjoy Rhino’s expanded CD, which includes Kelly’s renditions of the cut songs “There But for You Go I” and “From This Day On.” Also included is another number that was excised from the film, “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” sweetly sung by John Gustafsen, who dubbed for Jimmie Thompson. But this isn’t Brigadoon as we all know and love it. — G.A.
Studio Cast, 1957 (Columbia/Sony) (4 / 5) This is one of the best studio cast albums of the 1950s, conducted by the great Lehman Engel. The orchestral and choral work is excellent, and the cast nearly perfect. Shirley Jones is the embodiment of Fiona, but the most thrilling bit of casting is Susan Johnson as Meg; both of the character’s great comic songs, “The Love of My Life” and “My Mother’s Wedding Day,” are here in their raunchy entirety, and Johnson’s delivery of Lerner’s witty lyrics is brassy and brilliant. As for the male leads, Jack Cassidy doesn’t have quite the right sort of legit Broadway voice to play such a romantic role; and Frank Poretta as Charlie, although a fine tenor, sounds too mature for this boyish part. — G.A.
Studio Cast, 1992 (Angel) (4 / 5) If you’re looking for a complete recording of Brigadoon in modern digital sound, here it is. The London Sinfonietta lovingly performs every bar of the score, and the cast is top-notch. Conductor John McGlinn presents the songs in a most lyrical, lush setting, achieving the perfection of a fine classical music recording. As Tommy, Brent Barrett sounds gorgeous. Rebecca Luker is just as well cast; she glides through Fiona’s numbers blissfully, her standout performance being “Waitin’ for My Dearie.” John Mark Ainsley is first-rate as Charlie, and Judy Kaye is a terrific Meg, giving her character’s comic turns just the right amount of sass. Most of the ensemble work is excellent, although some of the chorus members sound a bit too operatic in their solo lines, and McGlinn’s conducting is impeccable. — G.A.