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Love Never Dies

Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Album Review

Few musicals have enjoyed the cultural (and financial) longevity of The Phantom of the Opera. Lyricists Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, and composer Andre Lloyd Webber’s take on the classic French novel by author Gaston Leroux, opened in 1986 with no endgame in sight, which makes one wonder why it took so long to cash in and make a sequel. In 2010, Webber, along with writer Glenn Slater, who won a Tony for his work on the 2007 stage adaptation of the 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid, brought Christine Daaé and the Phantom together again in Love Never Dies. Set ten years after the events of the first installment, the Phantom has lured his muse from Paris to New York City for a performance (that unbeknownst to her, he set up) at a new venue called Phantasma in Coney Island. High drama and tragedy ensue (fans of the original will revel in the gothic splendor of pieces like “The Coney Island Waltz” and the crafty/schmaltzy ballads “Til I Hear You Sing” and “Love Never Dies”), allowing Webber to spin a predictable but effective new set of themes that both celebrate the half-masked anti-hero’s pipe organ past while allowing him to evolve (as much as he can with his anger issues and addiction to heartache) beneath the formidable shadows of the Big Apple.

Customer Reviews

Paint Never Dries Indeed

Well here it goes. Firstly, I received the CD as soon as it was released and have listened to it for over a month now. Secondly, I saw the show in London 2 weeks ago so was able to relate the music to the action on stage. Overall, it was rather disappointing.

Prologue: This begins with a solo flute. I really don't know what it is about ALW and flute solos but they always seem pointless. Following this and the ambient sea sounds comes an accent I would never had guessed to be French (It sounds Eastern European to me?) Rather dull introduction, but then so was the prologue in Phantom. We hear the beginning of the Coney Island Waltz (although it's Coney Isle so it can rhyme with "mile".....)

Coney Island Waltz: This piece is excellent. I believe it to be one of ALW's best orchestral pieces he's ever written and describes a busy, energetic funfair scenario perfectly. The ending reminds me of the ending to the Overture to Cats (which I never liked) but this seems to work well here.

That's the Place you Ruined you Fool!: Why is this piece here? It not only sounds awful with the ridiculous wind bass line, but completely destroys the build up atmosphere from the Coney Island Waltz. In the show this has fortunately been merged with the prologue and works better.

Heaven by the Sea/ Only for him: I really don't like this ensemble piece. The harmonies aren't particularly pleasant to listen to and it feeds into the incorrect stereotypes that musicals are full of cheesy chorus numbers.

The Aerie: A rather nice orchestral piece which echoes Sunset Boulevard; Romantic strings which crescendo and diminuendo back and forth.

Til I Hear You Sing: It begins with the Phantom's iconic rock bass line. But why? When we hear the bass line in the original, it appears when the Phantom's presence is hypnotic or dangerous. He's not hypnotic here, and certainly not dangerous. However following the lame piano introduction comes a rather beautiful ballad showing ALW at his very best. It's a fantastic song belted out wonderfully by Ramin and is by far the best song of the show.

Giry Confronts the Phantom/ Til I hear you sing (reprise): The former is basically recitative which works OK although it's not something I'd ever choose to listen to. And then for no reason at all, Til I hear you sing appears yet again. Hearing the big show stopping number being repeated only 3 minutes after it's already been played is completely pointless and makes the piece sound rather repetitive.

Christine Disembarks/ Arrival of the trio: Nothing here to stir ones emotions. Just "storytelling" music.

What a Dreadful Town: Starts well representing the impatience and anger of Raoul but then cuts into more recitative.

Look With Your Heart: I really cannot enjoy this song. It's obvious ALW is trying to write a beautiful waltz in Rodgers fashion, but it lacks any depth. Also, what does “Look with your heart, and not with your eyes” actually mean?

Beneath a Moonless Sky: The Phantom's and Christine's big duet. There's an opportunity here for another “All I Ask of You” but sadly it doesn't come near to it. It's just a rehash of the “Journey to the Cemetery” music in the Phantom film, combined with the “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago.

The Beauty Underneath: A completely random piece of music which arises from nowhere. It's ALW's attempt at a “Phantom of the Opera” tune but has extremely dull orchestration, and just a bass line. It also sounds quite disturbing hearing Gustave shout “YES!” with increasing excitement.

Entr'acte: A nice piece with the main songs from the first act complied together ending predictably on Til I Hear you Sing.

Why Does She Love Me? This song takes a while to get going. In fact, it never gets going.

Devil Take the Hindmost: Finally, the big confrontation between Raoul and the Phantom has appeared. And it's not bad either. It reminds me of the Javert-Val Jean confrontation in Les Mis and works well.

Heaven by the Sea/ Bathing Beauty: Can't stand it. Sounds like it was a rejected song from Chicago.

Before the Performance: Yet more recitative with awful lyrics; “He knows your made of finer stuff”- How romantic. ALW gets a quick “Til I hear you Sing” in (yes, yet again), followed by the “Twisted Every Way” piece from Phantom I which is effective.

Love Never Dies: Christine's big aria. I much preferred watching this in the theatre than listening at home. Again, this takes a while to get going but when it does, it works to fantastic effect. However I knew this song in it's previous form (“Our Kind of Love”) and struggle to accept it as a piece which belongs in this show.

Ah Christine/ Gustave, Gustave/ Please Miss Giry: 20 minutes of recitative and a merging of a few of the previous themes (including of course, “Til I Hear you Sing”). It leaves you expecting a big finish like Phantom I, yet all we get is an unsatisfying flute solo......

Overall I think it's a weak album. It's full of recitative, and songs which sound as if they should be recitative. “Til I Hear you Sing” is ALW at his best, yet we hear it so much that by the 5th time it's played one can't help but get tired of it. I've seen the argument that “all great composers recycle their own work”. Well if that's the case then ask yourself why isn't Andrew Lloyd Webber up there with Handel, Bach, Mozart and the greats?

Saw the show, very disappointed

The most damning criticism of this show is that its not the Phantom of the Opera. Literally every song in Phantom is better than every song in Love Never Dies. It actually sounded quite dated and appeared that more effort went into the actual production than getting the basics right. They have done better variants of Lloyd webber musicals on the Simpsons (I want to see Planet of the Apes - the musical) than this.

Visually the show was stunning. The story was terrible. Christine goes to America to sing for the Phantom, meets a couple of characters from the first story, sings a song then something happens. Written down the 'book' would amount to 1 page.

I can't fault the singing - the Phantom was good. It just didn't make a lot of sense him working in a fun fair.

If you want to see/hear a good musical listen to anything else by Lloyd Webber or if you haven't seen it/heard it go for Les Miserables.

I'm going to buy the soundtrack anyway and play it to my wife every time she suggests going to the West End again.

Not Phantastic!

There are some hint's of brillance, such as the coney island waltz which i think is a really great piece of music. Its good but not great, no way as good as the phantom of the opera but i would still go and see it.

Biography

Born: 22 March 1948 in London, England

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Andrew Lloyd Webber (b. 1948) is the most successful composer of musicals of his generation and also a breaker of molds for the type. His predecessors were, for the most part, American: New York-based songwriters steeped in Broadway tradition. Lloyd Webber saw his share of shows as a child, too, but he was born in London, the son of William Lloyd Webber, Director of the London College...
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