Linda Sanders
January 24, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Strike Up the Band

Current Status
In Season
George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin

We gave it an A-

Talk about a long-awaited recording: Except for a couple of fleeting stage versions in recent years, nobody has heard the original 1927 score of this Gershwin show since…1927. Now, after years of musicological detective work and with some classy new period orchestrations, Strike Up the Band has been restored to what might be its original glory. The most surprising thing about the show is how (intentionally) Gilbert & Sullivanish it is; on first hearing, Ira Gershwin’s sly, gossamer lyrics seem to outshine George’s unprepossessing tunes (except, of course, for the two classics, ”The Man I Love” and the title song) at every turn. But the score grows on you fast, helped along by singers with genuine charm and a first-rate pit orchestra led by John Mauceri. One could quibble that the package is a trifle overacademic at times (it may be interesting to learn in the exhaustive liner notes that there was a reason for playing ”The Man I Love” in accordance with the square, awkward rhythms of the original orchestration, but it doesn’t make the number any less square or awkward); overall, though, s’wonderful. A-

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