The Frogs/Evening Primrose

A must-have for Sondheim fans, this disc unearths two of his lesser-known gems.

A must-have for Sondheim fans, this disc unearths two of his lesser-known gems. First is the world-premiere recording of The Frogs, a modern spin on Aristophanes' Greek comedy, originally staged in a Yale swimming pool in 1974. Here, Nathan Lane provides knowing wit as narrator Dionysus; laughs begin with his opening "Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" and build throughout this quirky, lyric-driven work. After The Frogs come four songs from Evening Primrose, a 1966 TV production that Sondheim scored—the first such recording he supervised himself. With string-heavy arrangements, these are some of Sondheim's most lush, romantic tunes. In the original ABC telecast, the actors' voices were weak, but Theresa McCarthy and Neil Patrick Harris scale emotional heights here—notably on the gorgeous duet "Take Me to the World." A superb recording of two long-overlooked scores.—WH