When I first went to download the music, I made sure "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" downloaded first, because I heard a snippet of Audra McDonald singing it, and I was completely bowled over by the clarity and beauty of her voice in this song! This song usually has a very operatic sound, and to just have the beginning in a subdued straight tone that builds to the vibrato is so beautiful to me. The emotion and fervor intensifies noticeably to it's climatic and hopeful ending and I think it gives more layers to the song. It's just so gorgeous and Audra McDonald more than does justice to it. I absolutely love her and it was a great move to cast her in this role!
So this production is based on the original Broadway musical, not the wonderful film, and there are some songs in this that maybe people who are just familiar with the film might not have heard. Like one of my top favorite songs from this musical - "How Can Love Survive" which is sung by the Baroness and Max. It's sort of a comic relief song where they bemoan the fact that you rarely have love stories featuring rich couples - memorable romances need obstacles. First of all, true, and second it's such a fun and buoyant song - I absolutely adore it. With such wonderful singers cast, I'm glad they included this song in this production. The other non-film song for the Baroness and Max and Captain Von Trapp is "No Way to Stop It" - is also fun I guess, but I've never really cared for it. I wonder if seeing it in the live show will make me like it more, but for now I don't like the message of it - basically give up and be selfish.
The one word that comes to mind when I think of Carrie Underwood's voice as Maria is strident. Which is fine. Maria has a strong personality and it makes sense that her voice reflects that. For the romantic number "Something Good" (which also happens to be my favorite song from the musical) I would have liked a little more softness and lilting, especially to match Stephen Moyer's softer tenor, but in the other songs it is perfect. Stephen Moyer doesn't have the strongest voice but he has a very nice sound and I especially loved him in "The Sound of Music Reprise" and "Edelweiss".
This is a great recording of the musical overall, and it made me even more eager to see the show live tonight. It's great to hear the stuff that didn't make it into the film and also to hear some of the really fantastic people they gathered together for this production!