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Something’s Gotta Give: Simon Keenlyside Showtunes CHANDOS 2014

Something’s Gotta Give


Catalogue No: CHAN10838
Release date: 1 November 2014

Barcode: 09511518382
Medium: CD

with Scarlett Strallen, soprano
Charles Mutter, violin
BBC Concert Orchestra
Conductor: David Charles Abell


  1. On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady (Frederick Loewe/Allan Jay Lerner)
    Click to listen to 30 sec of  “On the Street Where You Live”
  2. So in Love from Kiss me Kate (Cole Porter)
  3. Night and day from Gay Divorce (Cole Porter)
  4. People Will Say We’re in Love from Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)
    with Scarlett Strallen
  5. When Did I Fall in Love? from Fiorello! (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick)
    Scarlett Strallen
  6. Reviewing the Situation from Oliver! (Lionel Bart)
    with Charles Mutter
  7. All the Things You Are from Very Warm for May (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II)
  8. Soliloquy from Carousel (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)
  9. Something’s Gotta Give from Daddy Long Legs (Jonny Mercer)
  10. Stranger in Paradise from Kismet (George Forrest/Robert Wright)
    with Scarlett Strallen
  11. It Might as Well Be Spring from State Fair (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)
    Scarlett Strallen
  12. The Girl Next Door from Athena/Meet me in St. Louis (Hugh Martin/Ralph Blanc)
  13. It’s Magic from Romance on the High Seas (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn)
  14. Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ from Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)
    click to listen to 30 sec of “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin”
  15. If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the roof (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick)
  16. If I Loved You (Bench Scene) from Carousel (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)
    with Scarlett Strallan

Photos from the CD Launch at the Crypt on the Green

Chandos Records launched Simon’s new CD “Something’s Gotta Give” at the Crypt on the Green, Clerkenwell, London on 7.11.14. Simon performed live and sang “On the Street Where You Live” and “The Girl Next Door”, followed by “Stranger in Paradise” with Scarlett Strallen. They were accompanied by Ross Leadbeater at the piano. David Charles Abell, the conductor of the CD, and Sir Peter Moores also attended the event.

 Sound bites

Huntley Dent, Fanfaremag.com

We have been given permission to publish this review in advance of its inclusion in the next issue of Fanfare magazine, due out in March/April 2015

     It’s been an age since an opera star proved equal to the very different demands of Broadway, but here is Simon Keenlyside as the latest candidate—and he’s a terrific success. Was he practising at parties all this time? Of the famous baritones who’ve succeeded in crossing over, he’s actually more natural and stylish than either Thomas Hampson or Bryn Terfel. Could they manage Fagin’s Cockney-Jewish accent from Oliver! and make it sound as if they were in the original cast? The secret to Keenlyside’s charisma is the opposite of Terfel and Hampson. Their voices have an instant recognition factor, but his doesn’t, and this gives him the chance to be a vocal chameleon.

Keenlyside uses the opportunity to great effect. Fagin morphs into Billy Bigelow, Curly McLain, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, and Tevye (believe it or not, “If I Were a Rich Man” is one of the very best things on the program). At every turn a wonderful vocal actor persuades us that he owns the role. At 55, Keenlyside is in tremendous voice, his tenorish extension lending itself to thrilling high notes but also sotto voce shivers. Opera singers center their tone very differently from big-voiced musical comedy stars like Alfred Drake and John Raitt, but both learned how to fill a hall in the absence of microphones. Keenlyside places his voice so that it harks back to the Drake-Raitt era without winking to indicate that he comes from a higher world. In addition, he’s got swing, and his wide-ranging American accents are mostly quite convincing. Any lapses? He sentimentalizes Billy’s soliloquy from Carousel by omitting the necessary toughness, but many others have done the same.

Several duets call upon lyric soprano Scarlett Strallen, and she’s also been generously given two solos, including “When Did I Fall in Love?” from Fiorello! (The raging success of Oklahoma! started a fashion in titles with exclamation points.) A veteran of the West End and Broadway, Strallen is perfectly matched to Keenlyside. It’s a plus that she sounds so much like Dawn Upshaw. David Charles Abell is stylish in leading the BBC Concert Orchestra, which is a very experienced pops band.

Finally, the touchiest intangible, sexiness. In the past I haven’t associated Keenlyside with having a romantic or seductive voice; he was a little disappointing in his 2008 Viennese operetta album with Angelika Kirchschlager (Sony). He’s found the switch now, without a doubt, sounding like the ideal romantic lead, virile and tender. By comparison, Hampson and Terfel are chaste, gorgeous as their singing undoubtedly is. Here and there the arrangements are a little too Nelson Riddle for me, but anyone with a soft spot for classic show music won’t mind if the orchestra gushes more than the singers. I am as delighted to greet this album as I was surprised to run into it. A palpable hit.

Richard Fairman, FT.com, 21.11.14

4 stars

(we are not even allowed to quote!)

Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, December 2014


Neil Fisher,The Times, 5.12.2014

” …Yet Keenlyside clearly loves this  music, his hilarious rendition of If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof is a triumph and the sumptuous arrangements, many of them reclaimed from lost film scores, are utterly gorgeous as performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra under David Charles Abell.”

 Michael Darwell, Classicalsource.com, Dec 2014

” In the case of Simon Keenlyside, the crossover is an amazing success and he would be more than welcome to take to the music-theatre stage and bring his resonant baritone voice to Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, or some Sondheim. … This release is obviously a labour of love for all concerned, including the brilliance of the BBC Concert Orchestra under David Charles Abell who, along with Greten-Harrison and Seann Alderking, was responsible for seeking out those magical and brilliantly evocative orchestrations for this wholly excellent collection.”

Paul Westcott, Classical Music Magazine.December 2014

“Finally, Simon Keenlyside, one of the great baritones before the public, has released a CD of music from the shows. … but through the sheer artistry of this amazing baritone, he not only gets the style absolutely right, but sings it in a voice which can only be described as magnificent …”

Jonathan Rohr, musicweb-international,December 2014

“However, Simon Keenlyside’s recent release, Something’s Gotta Give, proves that an international opera star can deliver beautiful, natural-sounding performances of musical theatre classics. Throughout, Simon Keenlyside manages to maintain the Broadway feel of these songs without compromising his hallmark lyricism and robust tone. … It’s not difficult to find excellent recordings by Simon Keenlyside, so in some respects, it’s not that surprising that Something’s Gotta Give is such a success.  But when I put it next to other operatic attempts at musical theatre, I realize that it is singular in a lot of ways.  Here is an opera singer who sounds great singing Cole Porter.  Are any Broadway casting directors reading?”

William Dart, nzherald.co.nz, 7.2.2015

Something’s Gotta Give, Simon Keenlyside’s new clutch of Broadway and movie songs, is immensely enjoyable. The British baritone’s operatic heft is appreciated in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Soliloquy, and Lionel Bart’s Reviewing the Situation has the perfect kosher Cockney branding. …”

Rodney Milnes, Opera magazine, March 2015

” …Keenlyside sings two of Porter’s greatest songs, ‘So in Love’ and ‘Night and Day’, the former with the original Broadway accompaniment, which is one of the disc’s highpoints. the latter in a later arrangement which is, well, pretty good….What can artists of this stature with their experience of great music bring to lighter fare? Something as simple as the joining together of notes into phrases? This occurred to me listening to Keenlyside singing that cynically plagiaristic ‘Stranger in Paradise’, which through the plangency and warmth of his phrasing sounds like great music, which of course with a little help from Borodin (however much ironed out) it is. And breath control, enabling phrases to be drawn out  almost limitlessly.

Keenlyside includes much Richard Rodgers, rightly, as he’s a marvellous composer: the big numbers from Oklahoma! and from Carousel, not only the Soliloquy (grist to an opera singer’s mill) but also the Bench Scene, where he is joined by a more than capable Scarlett Strallen – hitherto my favourite account of this remarkable piece of composition has been that of Thomas Allen and Valerie Masterson, but this constitutes a formidable rival. Another high point is Kern’s ‘All the Things You Are’, a great 20th-century song, and there is the odd surprise: I didn’t know Julie Styne’s ‘It’s Magic’ from the movie Romance of the High Seas (1940), a lovely song most sensitively delivered….”

Huntley Dent, fanfaremag.com, 21.2.15

It’s been an age since an opera star proved equal to the very different demands of Broadway, but here is Simon Keenlyside as the latest candidate—and he’s a terrific success. … He’s found the switch now, without a doubt, sounding like the ideal romantic lead, virile and tender. By comparison, Hampson and Terfel are chaste, gorgeous as their singing undoubtedly is. Here and there the arrangements are a little too Nelson Riddle for me, but anyone with a soft spot for classic show music won’t mind if the orchestra gushes more than the singers. I am as delighted to greet this album as I was surprised to run into it. A palpable hit.

Nick Barnard, musicweb-international.com, March 2015

“This is an extremely carefully and lovingly produced album of classic Musical Theatre songs for – primarily – baritone. It has been made under the auspices of the Peter Moores Foundation, renowned for their support of recordings of opera in English. This is something of a departure therefore for the Foundation but features one of their stalwart singers Simon Keenlyside as the principal. He is supported by something of a dream team. … Many straight singers have floundered on the rocks of what is sometimes thought of as ‘easy’ musical theatre songs – Keenlyside is most certainly not part of the ‘crash and burn’ fraternity. … This disc can be considered a fine achievement if one that proves that singing musical theatre is much more than just singing the notes as beautifully as possible.”

Blas Matamoro, elartedelafuga.com, 8.3.15

(Spanish review)

On numerous occasions Simon Keenlyside has shown his art as a singing actor for which nature has not only given him this vague but indispensable something called talent but also the right voice for his way of expressing himself. He has a baritone with a dark register, perfect for characters of marked pathos like Hamlet or Wozzeck, of whom he has created remarkable versions.

Applied to the lied, this device (voice) converts each poem sung by Keenlyside into an imaginary person and at the same time into one of flesh and blood.

Everything above shines in a genre which apparently can do without that – the North American musical comedy. But the artist does not only approach it with intelligence, he also brings it nearer to his own dramatic and sound world. That is why he is so effective in Night and Day, All the Things You Are and Strangers in Paradise, where he gives a glamorous volume to his caressing instrument (voice), as well as in the monologue “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof or in the dialogue, half spoken and half sung, from Carousel, the last piece on the recording.

The happy occurrence is made complete by soprano Scarlet Strallen, with a naive grace and a freshness of timbre which contrast perfectly with the dense world of her partner, and conductor Abell, who is a master of the Broadway style with all its sentimental ecstasy and its moments of tremendous brilliance.

  Joanne Sydney Lessner, Opera News of the Metropolitan Opera, January 2016

“Simon Keenlyside’s collection of Broadway standards is a reminder of the value that an unpretentious, direct but still sizable voice can bring to these well-loved songs. Keenlyside knows when to unleash his full baritone power, but he never sacrifices the emotional content of the songs, which can be challenging to perform credibly out of context. … While you might expect Keenlyside to make a virile Fred Graham and a magnetic Billy Bigelow, his delightful Tevye is a surprise.  Strallen is at her best joining Keenlyside for “People Will Say We’re in Love,” but his solos are the gold here. …”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue December 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Hello Lee,
It’s so heartening to hear that Simon’s Tevye compares favourably with Zero Mostel’s. How very fortunate you were to see him.
Having twice seen Simon sing ‘If I Were a Rich Man’, I hazard to say that he is even better in a live performance. It may be that he can add a little more of his own interpretation as he is less tied to the original score or perhaps it’s that hint of a dance he inserts? Priceless! Especially in Wigmore Hall!

Ed Goodstein November 29, 2014 at 7:52 pm

A really terrific album, and especially as many of these songs/numbers have been done so many
times too. Distinctive. I like the way that SK tones his voice to the material, without trying to
be ‘gritty/pop/conversational’ either. And very interesting in the careful efforts to recreate ‘original’ or at least close to original arrangements. Kudos to David Charles Abell , Derke Gretten-Harrison and others
who worked on that so well.

Lee Kefauver November 26, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I finally received my copy of “Something’s Gotta Give” and you are right, Diana. What a joy it is–well worth the wait!
I had had the privilege of seeing most of these shows (our American operas), with the exception of those from the 1920’s, and 1930’s, which were a little before my time. Hearing SK sing those great songs brought back so many wonderful memories.
In 1964 I saw Zero Mostel play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, and what a great theatrical experience it was. Ten years later I took my children to a revival of Fiddler, and, while it was very well done, I could not help but be disappointed when this new Tevye sang “If I Were a Rich Man.” Every time since that evening when I heard, and saw, Zero Mostel do it, I have been disappointed in the performance of any other artist. That is, until now. What a thrilling performance SK gave! I had no feeling of disappointment in hearing Simon sing it. But then, Simon Keenlyside never disappoints, does he?

Sue November 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Yes Marilyn – got it!
Well spotted!

Marilyn November 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm

OK . . . has anyone else picked up on Simon’s sly little inside joke in “If I Were a Rich Man”?

Diana jones November 4, 2014 at 8:04 am

Well worth the wait, Lee! Every track is a gem, and Simon’s take on Fagin (Reviewing the Situation) has to be heard to be believed! Can this really be the same man who recently gave us a heart-wrenching Rigoletto and a stunningly “visual” Winterreise?? What an amazing talent that knows no bounds, and to be at any of his performances is an honour and a privilege. I do hope that he’ll treat us to a concert of the songs on the new CD before too long! – Diana.

Lee Kefauver November 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Those of us “across the pond” have to wait until November 18th for the CD’s release. Amazon.com is taking pre-orders. This month’s exercise in patience!

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