The Rothschilds

RothschildOriginal Broadway Cast, 1970 (Columbia/Sony) 5 Stars (5 / 5) Composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick were still at the peak of their productivity, following their great success with Fiddler on the Roof, when they wrote this sort of rich-man’s Fiddler, based on the true story of the wealthy and powerful Rothschild family. Listening to the impeccable cast album today, it’s hard to believe that The Rothschilds was not a blockbuster hit. Happily, this aural document preserves the score of a musical theater masterpiece. The songs are exciting and richly melodic, full of intelligence, character, and passion. There are outstanding, Tony Award-winning performances by Hal Linden as Mayer Rothschild and Keene Curtis in multiple roles; also excellent are Paul Hecht as Nathan Rothschild and Jill Clayburgh as Hannah Cohen. The songs “Pleasure and Privilege” and “Everything” are triumphs of ingenuity. The ballad “In My Own Lifetime,” a strong comment on the futility of war, is movingly delivered by Linden, who also does a wonderful job with the funny, clever “He Tossed a Coin.” Bock’s music is orchestrated masterfully by Don Walker. This album is a great addition to any collection. — Gerard Alessandrini