Rate These Recordings: Three Lanza Versions of "All the Things You Are"

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Derek McGovern

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Oct 10, 2013, 1:05:06 PM10/10/13
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I thought it was time we featured an English-language song on this listen-and-rate series, and so I've chosen Jerome Kern's and Oscar Hammerstein's immortal "All the Things You Are":


After you've listened to and evaluated the three recordings, I hope you'll return here and share your thoughts on them!

Cheers
Derek 

 

Derek McGovern

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Oct 10, 2013, 8:35:18 PM10/10/13
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A P.S. to the above: I've just provided alternative sources for two of the recordings in case anyone is blocked from viewing YouTube videos. If anyone still can't access the recordings, please let me know.   

Derek McGovern

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Oct 13, 2013, 8:26:15 PM10/13/13
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Well, for the first time that I'm aware of since we started our "Rate This Recording" feature, a Lanza rendition has been evaluated as "an unmitigated disaster"! I'm referring to the Coke version of "All the Things You Are":


A fair assessment? Don't be afraid to share your view!

Meanwhile, I see, the rarely heard MGM version of the song has been so far evaluated as either "excellent" or "a masterpiece," and the 1956 version (from the Cavalcade of Show Tunes album) has received either "Very good" or "Excellent" ratings. 

It's interesting to consider that while there are three complete versions by Lanza of this immortal song, two of them weren't released until roughly four decades after his death. And one of those two renditons happens to be among the man's greatest recordings---at least in my book. Who would have guessed that such a gem had been salted away for all those years?

Cheers
Derek

leeann

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Oct 15, 2013, 3:18:29 PM10/15/13
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Sometimes it's easier to talk about what doesn't work than to try to describe what does--especially when it's a song as lovely as this one sung so profoundly beautifully, yet differently, in the MGM and Cavalcade versions. The emotional impact is difficult to put into words.

Just quickly on the Coke version, then--mundane, and certainly compared to Lanza at his best, or even second or third best--unmitigated disaster or so-so probably work. It's a bit as if he were handed the music and sang it for the first time ever, moving behind the music, fumbling to fit vocal meaning to the poetry of the words, and second-guessing the orchestra. 'nuff said.

The  MGM version and the Cavalcade version seem very different. There is an intimacy in the 1951 version. At times, it can feel almost intrusive to listen, marveling at the same time at the fluidity of the interpretation--the constant shift in light and shade, the nuance, the artistry.

But I love the voice of the 1956 version so much--a rendition that seems terribly well-suited and appropriate as part of an album. Maybe less nuanced, but absolutely splendid. The challenge of this version, for me, comes near the end as he shifts toward the final "all the things you...ARE are mine."  It's the transition to that penultimate "are" that seems a bit strained--at least in the context of what's gone before and in comparison to the earlier version.

Perhaps, in part, the differences between the MGM and Cavalcade versions are another example of Lanza's musical intelligence--his knowing how to use his voice and his interpretive abilities to fit the context in which he's singing. Sort of like the "Lamento" at Albert Halll--totally magnificent, perfectly adapted to the audience and the venue--but quite different from what how it would be sung in the opera itself. Lee Ann

PS Adding a postscript (thanks to the great editing function). I listened several more times with headphones. I still find the reach to that penultimate ARE something I'd like to understand technically a bit more. It seems like a hugely difficult musical step. But totally agree with Vince about the absolutely glorious ending!
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Vincent Di Placido

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Oct 14, 2013, 6:00:02 PM10/14/13
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Wow! What a range...  
That Coke performance is so poor, Mario sounds so unprepared, unsure of what he's doing & his phrasing is sloppy. The ending is not the way to go with this song either, something he repeats in "The 7 hills of Rome" & it didn't work then either. I do love the instrumental bridge though, its actually one of my favourite Coke arrangements, it's a shame it doesn't involve Mario :-)
The "Because You're Mine" take is sublime, Mario is definitely prepared here! Such lovely phrasing, changes of mood & atmospheric singing, Lee Ann your observation about intruding is spot on, you almost feel like a voyeur because of the intimacy of the singing... A beautiful recording! I Love it!
The "Cavalcade of Show Tunes" take is what I call mature Mario, he is now polished, yes burnished, baritonal & in this post 1953 artist there were less erratic performances. Mario at this stage KNOWS this song inside out & this is a beautiful reading with a glorious ending, it's exactly the way this song should end, I love the chord on that last "are" which you lose on the the high endings. 
1951 "BYM" first place, 1956 a VERY close second & 1951 "Coke" in a definite last place.

jora...@gmail.com

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Oct 15, 2013, 12:25:55 PM10/15/13
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Ahh, You are a tricky devil Derek. It’s hard to imagine this beautiful Jerome Kern song and the luscious voice of Lanza combining to produce a disaster. Only when judging against  the high bar of Lanza’s capability can we hear separation in  these versions:

 The MGM version would have pleased if one never heard the later, 1956 recording. In some notes his breath control was not perfect and his voice sounded a little “raspy” to me. Some of the singing was “uneven” and much of his usual sweetness was missing. I rated this as good..

The #35 version was surprisingly good for a Coke performance even though it did not “flow” well in some parts. It also had a typical “Coke” more-power-than-needed ending. I rated this as a so/so (but definitely not as a disaster as in LOB disasters). everything considered, a passable rendition .

 

The 1956 version. Now we are talking about Mario on top of his game. His voice was velvety rich and smooth from beginning to end! An exciting Lanza signature ending but under control. Tough to find any flaws. Just wonderful!, a masterpiece(or close to it) methinks.

Barnabas Nemeth

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Oct 15, 2013, 12:48:43 PM10/15/13
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Interesting but my judgement differs from the average: the 1951 MGM version is only so/so or good, the Coke version is very good or excellent, and for me the best verion is the 56' Cavalkade Show version, most passionate but not exaggerated, at more matured voice.
Barnabas

Derek McGovern

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Oct 17, 2013, 12:32:03 AM10/17/13
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What a range of opinions on these three recordings! I love the fact that people aren't afraid to express different views---and that's exactly what I hoped for when I started this series.

I'm firmly with Lee Ann and Vince on the radio version. To me, it's the kind of careless, seemingly unrehearsed singing that typifies the worst of the Coke recordings, and I rated it as 1/5 (poor). I can't believe that this was chosen as the first track for the 2001 BMG CD My Romance. What a way to turn listeners off! 

As an aside, this previously unreleased recording had originally been selected by Jeff Rense to begin the first (1999) version of his BMG Special Products CD I'll See You in My Dreams. But as he told me at the time, after even his young daughter had pointed out how substandard it was---and that it spoiled the beginning of the CD---he had the good sense not to use it. Any hopes, however, that it might remain buried in the vaults were dashed when it turned up a couple of years later on My Romance.

What I don't understand, however, is how Mario could have performed it so badly when just the previous day he had sung it so sublimely at the M-G-M Studios. Was he tired or harried? In his spoken introduction, he does sound rushed and out of sorts. Or was it the very different arrangement that threw him? 

The only other thing I can think of is that the MGM version we have is incorrectly dated, and that it was actually recorded well after the radio version---and at a stage when Lanza had properly learned the song. We know there was another take in October 1951, three months after the first MGM version. Could the TCM liner notes writer (Rudy Behlmer) who gave July 12 as the date of recording have confused the two MGM takes made three months apart? It's possible, especially since the same CD (Be My Love: Mario Lanza's Greatest Performances at M-G-M) features a number of recordings purported to be from the soundtrack of Lanza's MGM films, but which are actually outtakes. (I'm sure that wasn't intended either, except in the case of the wild alternate version of "Beloved.") 

But regardless of the month in which the M-G-M version was recorded, I think it's a dreamy version, delicately and irresistibly phrased, and a wonderful example of magician Lanza's ability to switch seamlessly between his soft and loud pedals. Who says the man lacked subtlety and technical skills? This is a rendition that even Lanza-haters have been known to admire :) But Lee Ann really said it best: 

"There is an intimacy in the 1951 version. At times, it can feel almost intrusive to listen, marveling at the same time at the fluidity of the interpretation--the constant shift in light and shade, the nuance, the artistry."    

Joe:  I don't agree with you about Mario's breath control not being good here; I feel he's making deliberate phrasing choices, as opposed to running out of breath. Can you give us an example of what you hear as poor breath control? As for the raspiness that bothered you here, I think you're being fooled by the less-than-stellar sound quality. I used to have a tape of this recording---and somehow in my travels I've mislaid it---but it featured cleaner, less distorted sound that what we hear in places on the CD reproduction. (The tape predated the CD by at least a couple of years.) If I could find the tape reproduction for you, I might be able to change your mind! 

As far as I'm concerned, the MGM recording is a masterpiece. 

The 1956 version? I think we're all pretty much in consensus (so far) that this is a very good to excellent rendition. Yes, it's much more operatic than the MGM version, but both approaches work for me. Sure, it contains a couple of very minor blemishes (that croak on "lovely," for example), but it's a thrillingly ardent piece of singing in my book---with amazing breath control---that never goes over the top, as it so easily could have done. It's an incredibly emotional performance---one could say it positively throbs with emotion---but there's never a moment in which I don't believe that Lanza is utterly living the song. He sells it! 

Cheers
Derek

P.S. I hope more people will come forward and share their opinions.

Muriel

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Oct 22, 2013, 8:31:20 PM10/22/13
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All The Things You Are

 

What makes Mario so special to you? One of the most frequent answers is how he seems to be singing to each one of us alone. Indeed, we get the feeling that we are the most important person on earth and become spellbound at the sound of his voice. One song in particular that captivates me with this special intimacy is the Because You’re Mine recording of All The Things You Are.

Oh, I’ve always loved the 1956 Cavalcade version. It is a sweet and sincere declaration of love, full of beautiful phrasing and it is very satisfying. (I never listen to his CC one with that frightful high ending. It seems his radio audience required as rousing a finish as he could deliver?) Yes, I was quite happy with Mario’s interpretation until – I discovered the Rhino CD! I was immediately charmed by his tender and beguiling eloquence. His phrasing is very similar to the COST rendition, but his tone is more mellow and velvety. I believe it was purposely sung this way as it most likely was meant for a very special love scene in the film. Since it is so exquisite, I wonder if that scene was filmed and later edited out. Even if that were the case, all I can do is shake my head and wonder why the song was unheard for so many years.

We first hear Mario hum quietly, with only piano accompaniment. Then, “You are the promised kiss of springtime, that makes the lonely winter seem long.” An orchestra gradually joins in, but it stays quietly in the background. The voice and words are what we focus on. He goes along smoothly, but on the line, “Some day my happy arms will hold you….” he changes gears and volume, but, just as suddenly, reverses “…and some day I’ll know that moment divine…”. That latter “some day” line is so soft and hushed, it sounds like he is walking on a cloud.

Fast forward to the second verse. If he was walking on a cloud in the previous verse, then his “You are the angel glow that lights a star…” we hear the sun come shining through those clouds in all its glory!! He holds on to “glow” deliciously. Hear the luxuriant phrasing on: “The dearest things I know, (are what you are----Some day) my happy arms will hold you, and some day….. I’ll know that moment divine, when all the things you are,…..are mine.” Mario’s intensity increases and decreases as smoothly as satin in a gentle breeze all throughout the last line. His “mine” evaporates into the mist with the same tranquilly as his humming emerged. What an endearing song!

 

Derek McGovern

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Oct 22, 2013, 9:38:40 PM10/22/13
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How lovely to see Muriella back---and with a reprise of this charming essay too!

By the way, since surprisingly few people have joined in and rated the three renditions of "All the Things You Are," here's that link again for anyone who would like to participate:

Verna XXX

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May 8, 2020, 9:19:37 PM5/8/20
to Mario Lanza, Tenor
I know this is a very old thread, but seeing the rating page is still up I thought I would indulge myself. I was just deciding to cut  "All the Things you Are" from my favourites list. Now I've heard the MGM version, it's back. I love the warmth and intimacy of this version. While Mario is in wonderful voice for the 1956 version, for me it is too slow. I know it is a slow song but some of the notes are really dwelt on, surely beyond what is indicated on the sheet music? It gets a bit mournful and hooty for me (don't shoot me). Can anyone with musical knowledge please enlighten me? I'm going on the clip length to back me on saying the first version is less slow, I know that's not an infallible guide. There's a few others of his songs that strike me as a bit too slow eg Rose Marie. I guess that was done to showcase his voice. Now also there is one recording (forget which at the moment) that sounds like it has been reproduced to play slower than recorded. His voice is deeper. I hate it when something upsets me in his songs, it's like a blemish on the face of a beautiful woman.

Derek McGovern

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May 16, 2020, 7:48:33 AM5/16/20
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Hi Verna: The discarded MGM version of "All the Things You Are" is certainly Lanza's most intimate rendition of Kern's wonderful song---and a masterpiece of vocal control and phrasing, as far as I'm concerned. But I do love the 1956 Cavalcade of Show Tunes version as well---and I've never heard it sound better (or more thrilling) than on the 2019 Sepia CD of the same title

The 1956 recording is simply a much more operatic rendition than the 1951 MGM version. It's great to be spoiled for choice with two quite different approaches and arrangements that I feel are equally valid. But these things are subjective, of course. I know a diehard fan who thinks the MGM version is boring compared with the 1956 version. But to me the MGM recording is a magically nuanced rendition---my desert island version---and the Cavalcade recording is thrilling and passionate. If you find it "hooty" on the CDs you have, then I recommend getting the Sepia CD for a superior reproduction. 

The "Rose Marie" from the same (Cavalcade) album has a poor arrangement, hindering what Mario can do with the song. The best thing about it is his startling high B-flat on "Rose" at the end.  
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