For better or worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Gaston Leroux's gothic horror/romance novel has done for stage musicals what Spielberg's Jaws did for fish stories, with worldwide sales of its original cast album approaching 25 million. While director Joel Schumacher's film turns on his typically ambitious visual verve, its new film soundtrack recording has been paradoxically focused in scope, yet beefed up dynamically via the brawny presence of a hundred piece orchestra and The London Boys Choir. This double-disc version showcases all of Phantom's songs, with Gerard Butler imparting a welcome, youthful sensuality to his Phantom, making a fine foil for Emily Rossum's ever-conflicted Christine. Original show orchestrator David Cullen has fashioned compelling new contemporary arrangements to frame Webber's songs–which now conclude with the lilting, upbeat new ballad he wrote for the film, "Learn to Be Lonely," sung by Minnie Driver's Carlotta.
This is a genuine oddity in the career output of Andrew Lloyd Webber, growing out of a personal/familial vignette. The piece, a set of variations on Niccolo Paganini’s “Caprice No. 24” (which had previously inspired adaptations by Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Boris Blacher, among others), came about because Andrew Lloyd Webber lost a bet with his cellist brother Julian Lloyd Webber, and was obliged to compose a work for cello and rock band for him, which was premiered in August of 1977 at a music festival, and subsequently recorded and released on an LP (later transferred to CD) by MCA. At the time, progressive rock was still hanging on to some semblance of commercial viability, and in fairness, MCA had made a fortune off of Lloyd Webber’s work on Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is Andrew Lloyd Webber's first staged musical work and his first staged collaboration with his best lyricist Tim Rice. The very first musical they wrote together, called `The likes of us', didn't reach the stage at that time and was put there for a single special performance in 2005, luckily, captured on CD and also available here at Amazon. By Marijan Bosnar