This live recording of the critically acclaimed revival of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical captures the rawness and pain that lies at the centre of the musical perfectly.
‘What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play’ as the lyrics go for the musical’s title song, well thanks to this sumptuous recording of the 2021 West End cast recording – you can sit in your room and hear the music play to your hearts delight – but does make you want to re-visit the show in person.
With the recording featuring a wide range of vocal talent – not least Eddie Redmayne as the Emcee and Jessie Buckley in the iconic role of Sally Bowles – you get a real sense of the characters and the story throughout this album that is just as absorbing as seeing the show live on stage. The gorgeous orchestrations are still very much on display and feel in no way as if they have been enhanced for effect, making each song stand out on its own terms, while ensuring the darkness of the story is never lost.
Of course, much of the success of a cast recording is very much reliant on the performances from the cast themselves. Eddie Redmayne is perfectly pitched as The Emcee – with his renditions of ‘Willkommen’ and ‘Money’ for example’ allowing the audience to be completely taken in by the over the top nature of his character as well as getting him to interact with the audience as a whole. There is an air of mystery to his performance that is intriguing to listen to, with a hint of quirkiness that never feels overblown.
Meanwhile, Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles, provides such a rawness to her vocal performance that really gives her character an edge – with her rendition of the famous song ‘Cabaret’ being utterly compelling to listen to her. Thanks again to the superb way in which the song has been arranged for this production, this song feels as though it takes on a whole new meaning. Strong and confident with a hint of vulnerability, this is a superb vocal performance.
Elsewhere, it is hard not to be charmed by the wonderful performance of ‘Married’ by Elliot Levey, Liza Sadovy, Anna Jane Casey that has plenty of different emotions on display that helps reveal the increasing pain and sorrow the story at this point is uncovering, while ‘It Couldn’t Please Me More’ certainly puts a smile on my face each time I listen to it.
By recording these songs live, there is a sense of intimacy and privilege about being able to listen to them privately at your own leisure – particularly when it comes to renditions of ‘Maybe’ or ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ for example. There is certainly an element of excitement and energy from watching the show live that still translates well onto this cast recording.
Overall, this is one of the sleekest put together cast recording I have heard in a long time and manages to retain the spirit of the show perfectly. This is a treat indeed to listen to.
By Emma Clarendon
The 2021 West End cast recording of Cabaret is available to buy now.