"Austrian hilltops and songs of Maria
Word plays on solfege that start Do a deer
Romantic melodies backed up with strings
These are a few of our favourite things . . .
All of us except Christopher Plummer, that is, who reputedly dubbed the most successful
film of his career The Sound of Mucus. Rather uncharitable. Unless you subscribe to the
theory that he was misheard whilst munching over breakfast – just what is it with the
sound of muesli?
Whatever the opinion of the man who played the barren-faced Baron with the latently
warm heart, it’s thirty five years since the hills first throbbed with the pure tones
of Julie Andrews, and the world is still singing along.
In the years of 1964/65 Andrews burst onto silver screens like a pocketful of sun that
made My Fair Lady seem dark and acerbic. And not just because Audrey Hepburn, turned down
the role of Maria two years before.
It was a time when Oscars were drawn to musicals like sailors to The Sirens. Andrews
nabbed Best Actress as Mary Poppins, her first major screen role, and Paramount realised
that a magical musical nanny was bound to be a success as a musical nun-cum-governess.
The sweet register of Andrew’s phrasing and personality was a winner from Robert
Wise’s opening aerial shot (it worked for the director in West Side Story… and
when you’re on a good thing…). But it’s the R&H music that is the key
to the incredibly enduring success. If you’re going to write a musical called the
Sound of Music, set in Salzburg (birthplace of Mozart), you’d better come up with a
dandy bunch of tunes. And of course they did.
Of the two discs in this selection, the first is the same as the original soundtrack
release, and the second includes the bits it omitted plus a couple of extra goodies. The orchestral extensions of the songs are at least as great a pleasure as
the songs themselves, and there is also a ten-minute Richard Rodgers discourse, full of
charming homilies about his work and attitude and modus operandi. Much like his music,
it’s chockers with charm and devoid of intellectual pretence.
Everyone knows the songs here: they’re your cup of tea with jam and bread, or
they’re not. If they are, you’ll be more than pleased with the comprehensive
nature of this collector’s addition. If not, well you’re in a minority; but you
could always send some fan mail to C. Plummer. Scribble it on the back of a hankie."
Published May 3, 2001