There are a few Sondheim songs that I love, have a few versions playing on my ipod, and when in need of a song to sooth the soul, turn to. Here are is a shortlist:
Not a Day Goes By - my favorite version of this is sung by B. Peters in the tribute to Sondheim concert. Her call to lost love and the longing for someone who lingers as a painful memory is guttural, piercing, and haunting.
Could I Leave You - From Follies, it has a hysterical chorus close to the end, with an emphatic YES at the punch. One of his twisted love songs!
Everyday a little death - originally in A Little Night Music, along with my not so favorite clown song, this one gets a new lift in the revue Putting it Together. Hear the 1993 version with Julie Andrews, she's no longer Maria or Mary Poppins. She's a wife who has suffered and shares it with the younger gals. "Every move and every breath and you hardly feel a thing, brings a perfect little death."
Losing My Mind - Just one more painful love song, but full of seemingly mundane activity ("I dim the lights") intertwined with the repetitive line "I think about you" makes for a heartbreak song.
Another Hundred People - from Company, sung by Marta, the hip, New York girlfriend of the protagonist. The city is full, crowded, dirty, but fantastic. Sang at a pace you wonder where she takes a breath.
Art and music come together in It's Hot up Here, from Sunday in the Park with George. Sondheim studies the technique of painter George Seurat, and even if you have never seen the painting (or the musical), you know there's something underpinning the composition. Staccato = pointillism.
Perhaps Sondheim was in the mood to show the other side of Madame Butterfly when he created Pacific Overtures. Set in Japan at the time American naval ships entered Yokohama, it's a dissonant, sometimes atonal musical (Chrysanthemum Tea), with a few lyrical pieces I enjoy (Someone in a Tree, and Pretty Lady). According to the online write up, PacOvertures had the shortest run for a Tony Award's Best Musical.
Tomorrow is the premiere of New Voice Company's Into the Woods; I might post one more chapter about the songs from that particular musical (I have a few favorites there too), and highlight some plot twists, of the many that take place throughout Acts 1 and 2.