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Catherine Surowiec, March 2010

Meredith Willson’s musical masterpiece The Music Man has been charming audiences since its Broadway premiere in 1957. Although it has been available on CD before, grab the chance to get this latest CD reissue of this wonderful slice of Americana on the Naxos Musicals budget label. Besides the original Broadway cast album (in digitally restored stereo), headed by the inimitable Robert Preston as Harold Hill, the fast-talking musical conman who sweeps a small Iowa town off its feet and wins the heart of the at-first-sceptical librarian (the marvellous Barbara Cook, in her early ingénue phase), the CD also features mono bonus tracks of instrumental selections conducted by Meredith Willson himself in early 1958, including the “Marian the Librarian” ballet music, a lovely arrangement of “Goodnight, My Someone”, and a rousing “Seventy-Six Trombones” guaranteed to have you marching around the room. Willson, who wrote the music, lyrics, and libretto, worked on the musical for years before his labour of love finally made it to Broadway; it’s fascinating to hear a 1950 recording of Eileen Wilson singing “Till I Met You”, an early version of the show’s standard “Till There Was You”.

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