Recording information: Abbey Road Studios (04/2012-05/2012); Chapman Recording And Mastering, Kansas City, MO (04/2012-05/2012).
Renowned for re-creating the classic scores from the golden era of musicals, British conductor John Wilson and his acclaimed symphonic orchestra revisit their celebrated performance at the 2010 BBC Proms with this lovingly crafted tribute to the works of Rodgers & Hammerstein. Joined by some of the West End stage's most talented young leads including Sierra Boggess (The Phantom of the Opera), Julian Ovenden (Finding Neverland), and Anna-Jane Casey (Chicago), its 15 tracks cover material from what is widely regarded as the duo's Big Five. So alongside a solitary number from The King & I ("Overture"), listeners get beloved show tunes from South Pacific (the sprightly "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair"), Carousel (the choral singalong of "June Is Bustin' Out All Over"), Oklahoma (the sweeping romantic duet of "People Will Say We're in Love"), and The Sound of Music (the iconic instrumental theme). Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, Wilson effortlessly recaptures the pizzazz and pure escapism of 1950s soundstages throughout, but it's only when Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato makes her presence felt that the album offers anything different. Indeed, as she showcases her soaring operatic tones on the emotionally stirring "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the inspirational "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," you wish that her ability to make cherished half-century-old musical classics entirely her own had been utilized a little more often. But as a celebration of both Rodgers & Hammerstein and Wilson's talents, At the Movies is, for the most part, box-office gold. ~ Jon O'Brien