Entertainment :: Music

Julie Andrews & Carol Burnett - The CBS Television Specials

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday Apr 10, 2012
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Two grande dames of the stage and screen have maintained a public friendship that dates back over 50 years, and we are once again reminded of their genius for comedy and song with the release of the 2-CD set, "Julie & Carol: Live at Carnegie Hall" and "Julie & Carol: Live at Lincoln Center," as part of the continuing series of digital releases from the vaults of Masterworks Broadway / Sony Music.

When "Live at Carnegie Hall" was filmed in 1962, Julie Andrews was still a young star on the cusp, having appeared in "My Fair Lady," "The Boyfriend," and "Camelot." But her abilities were never in question, especially in her comic chemistry with Carol Burnett who, even though she was several years away from her mega-hit variety series, was already a known Broadway quantity, having already appeared in "Once Upon a Mattress." The repartee between the two women is obvious from the opening cut on the "Carnegie Hall" recording, with "No Mozart Tonight," instantly establishing their genuine comfort for entertaining the masses.

With the success of "Carnegie Hall," CBS reunited the pair in 1971 at Philharmonic Hall (now the Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center. With this performance, the ambience took on the flavor of a superstar concert: Andrews was now an international star with the success of "The Sound of Music," and Burnett’s weekly comedy series was a constant ratings hit for CBS. The women were clearly more confident in this recording; being allowed to let their reputations enhance the audience’s appreciation of their work.

Sketches preserved here range from the cute ("Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be") to the ridiculous ("Madame Abernall’s"), but the women do showcase their wonderful voices on solo numbers, with Burnett’s "Meantime" only slightly surpassing Andrews’ "He’s Gone Away."

Both shows also established the presentation of an extensive medley of the popular music of the day. That the women chose very safe music to present in these ten-plus minute recapitulations is irrelevant, as the arrangements are spectacularly constructed by Irwin Kostal.

You can watch the videos of all these audio pieces online, but Sony’s compilation of this material gives us a chance to enjoy these two masters without being glued to an electronic device.

"Julie & Carol: Live at Carnegie Hall" and
"Julie & Carol: Live at Lincoln Center"
2-CD set / Digital formats
Masterworks Broadway / Sony Music

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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