“If I Loved You,” from Carousel, one of the greatest ballads of the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, has been covered easily over 150 times. It’s a great song, but not easy to sing. YouTuber Beatrice Powell has put together this terrific compilation of thirteen different versions. To me, they range from poor to great. I watched the video once, and had one set of opinions, and then closed my eyes and had a different set. Who’s version is your favorite?
The “bench scene” from Carousel, “If I Loved You,” with the original Broadway cast, John Raitt (father of Bonnie) and Jan Clayton. In my opinion, the best love scene and music that Rodgers and Hammerstein ever wrote. And stay until the end to catch the amazing Jan Clayton in the final clinch.
Thanks to YouTuber fvydt
The composer Richard Rodgers was lucky enough to work with two of the greatest Broadway lyricists who ever lived: Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. Likewise, those two lyricists were lucky enough to work with Rodgers.
But to my mind, the most beautiful piece of music that Rodgers ever wrote was not the product of a collaboration with either of those two men. It was the glorious “Carousel Waltz,” written as the prologue for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. More than an overture, it set the tone for the entire play. In my favorite incarnation of the play, the 1994 revival, directed by Nick Hytner and designed by Bob Crowley, it was the backdrop for a pantomime showing the tough lives of the New England mill factory girls. As the final work bell sounded, they were set free from their enforced factory drudgery to explore the wonders of the Carousel, even as it was being built piece by piece onstage by actors playing carny roustabouts. Truly a stunning theatrical moment.
The recording above is the New York Philharmonic conducted by Richard Rodgers himself. It’s thrilling to hear with a full orchestra. So get out of bed this Monday morning and catch a ride on the carousel. Click on the grey triangle above to hear.