WEST SIDE STORY (original film soundtrack) is loaded with resplendent performances
A week before the film was widely distributed in theaters, Hollywood Records released WEST SIDE STORY (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on streaming and digital platforms, with the release of physical CDs to coincide with the film’s release. December 10. The new soundtrack soars, fully showcasing the brilliance of Leonard Bernsteinthe unforgettable musical score infused with jazz and Latin. Whether you’ve been a fan of WEST SIDE STORY for years, if not decades, or just getting started in it, the 2021 soundtrack is sure to thrill you.
The recording of WEST SIDE STORY in 2021 is as lush and vibrant as fans of musical theater and musical films have expected. Conducted by a renowned composer Gustavo Dudamel, the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform Bernstein’s indelible score, arranged and adapted for this film by the composer David Newman, with abundant life and precision. Not confined to the constraints of the ever-smaller size of Broadway’s pit orchestras, the music is always full and bursting with wall-to-wall enthusiasm. Even without the vocal tracks, it would be impossible not to get carried away by this iconic score as it is performed on this album.
Newcomer Rachel Zegler, portrayed as Maria, is simply impressive in her performance on this record. She brings wonderful tenderness and heart to songs like “Balcony Scene (Tonight)” and “One Hand, One Heart”. Her take on “I Feel Pretty” is imbued with the fantasy of teenage first love and is the perfect nod to her heartbreaking performance on “I Have a Love.”
In front of Zegler, Ansel Elgort charms like Tony. This score offers Elgort a chance to showcase his vocal range and is quite the start of his own solo career as a musician. Tackling “Something’s Coming”, Elgort’s bright, singing voice brings to life all of the whimsical whims that each new lyric set seems to offer. Her performance on “One Hand, One Heart” is serious and warm.
The always impeccable Ariana DeBose is absolutely radiant like Anita on the album, and her “A Boy Like That” is a tour de force that would completely stop a live performance in its tracks. Returning to WEST SIDE STORY 60 years after becoming a household name for her portrayal of Anita in the 1951 film, Rita moreno offers the most delicate and sublime interpretation of “Somewhere” ever recorded. There’s already a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding Moreno’s performance in this film, and this track illustrates where that fervor comes from.
WEST SIDE STORY, despite its problems and flaws, has always been an audience favorite. The 2021 film aims to correct many of the misgivings of the original film and the productions of the previous scene. Unfortunately, as I haven’t seen the movie yet, I can’t say how much it addresses these issues, but I can assure you that this album is packed with resplendent performances. Ample space is given to every performer, regardless of ethnicity or gender, to shine, and they rise to the occasion with captivating bravado. Based on the soundtrack alone, it’s going to be hard not to absolutely fall in love with this new WEST SIDE STORY.
To listen or purchase WEST SIDE STORY (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), please visit http://hollywoodrecs.co/WestSideStory.