Thursday, 8 September 2016

Sky’s Musical Corner – The Songs from CHESS

Welcome to another episode of „Facts about Chess“ ;). I have introduced you to the musical itself and now it’s time fort he songs, before that are some details on the plot of the musical:

CHESS - The Plot

Act 1
The world chess championship is being held in the northern Italian town of Merano. The brash American champion relishes the crowd's affection, while his Russian challenger and Molokov, his second (actually a KGB agent), watch with curiosity and disdain on TV. The opening ceremony features an arbiter insisting on holding the proceedings together, US and Soviet diplomats vowing their side will win, and marketers just looking to make a buck. The American storms out of a rules meeting, leaving his second, Florence, in an argument with the Arbiter and the Russians. She later scolds him, but he insists that she, a child emigre who escaped Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, should support him. Instead, she reflects that "nobody's on nobody's side". The first game of the match goes badly, with dirty tricks nearly evolving into a brawl. A meeting to smooth things over goes badly and strands the Russian and Florence together, where they quickly develop feelings for one another. As the matches continue, the American flounders and blames Florence, who leaves him. The Russian wins the championship, then defects to the west. Answering reporters' questions about his loyalties, his "Anthem" declares that "my land's only borders/ lie around my heart."
Act 2
A year later, the Russian is set to defend his championship in Bangkok, Thailand. The American is already there, chatting up locals about the nightlife. Florence and the Russian are now lovers, and worry about the situation. Molokov, meanwhile, has trained a new protege to challenge the Russian. The American interviews the Russian on TV and makes obvious attempts to rattle him, even declaring that the Russian's wife (Svetlana) is being allowed to leave the USSR to attend the match. She and Florence both reflect on their relationships with him. The American goes to the Russian with information about Florence's long-lost father, claiming that instead of being a hero as she believed, he was a collaborator. The Russian, and later Florence, dismiss him, unwilling to hear what he has to say. He reflects on his life and his obsession with chess as a way to escape an unhappy childhood. In the deciding game of the match, The Russian manages an exceptional victory, and realizes that it may be the only success he can achieve - Svetlana castigates him for wallowing in the crowd's empty praise. Both acknowledge they are doomed to care only for themselves. Later, he and Florence reflect on their story that seemed so promising, and how they "go on pretending/ stories like ours/ have happy endings."

On our CHESS website you can find an overview of the synopsis including all the songs:

Now, let’s talk songs. The one song everybody knows is One Night in Bangkok and who doesn’t love it?! It’s the opening number of the second act, which is of course set in Bangkok.

The other song you might now is a duet called I Know Him So Well. It’s sung by the two female main roles. The song is beautiful and lots famous singers have covered the song.

The music in this musical is a mixture between rock, opera, pop, classic and even a bit oriental. The song Merano includes it all. It’s starts in a classical operatic way sung by the big choir and then moves into a very rocky piece sang by the main male role. In the end it’s classical again. The transition between these parts is phenomenal and it happens several times in the show.

If you have read my post about the show, you know that the two ABBA man have written the music, but it’s not like Mamma Mia or ABBA at all. There are certain passages, where you can here the ABBA influence, like in Arbiter.

Lots of songs sung by the main roles have backing vocals, who are sung by a pop choir (choir of nine people). Arbiter is one of these songs, there are also: 1956, Nobody’s Side, Where I Want to Be etc.

The man have some great songs to sing (I’m a little jealous), they’re fun and full of energy: Sovjet Machine, Diplomats.

A song with a lot of text and sung really fast is the Press Conference. I really like this song, the journalists interview the American chess player. I know it by heart, even though I’m not in it.

Other songs sung by the big choir are: Hymn, Ouverture and Endgame. The endgame is really long and has different parts including smaller choirs and prinicipals as well. I really like this, because the whole cast comes together.

A song where all the prinicipals come together is The Deal. It has different parts as well and the main characters sing about their feelings.
The music here is brilliantly written. That’s also the case in the Quartet, four roles interacting in a song.

The quartet is musically the same as Story of Chess. Story of Chess is sung by a smaller choir and tells the story of how Chess developed as a game. In this song we are chess figure and get to move on the chess board.

Another song sung by a smaller choir is Merchandisers. We get to sell chess merchandise there and get to be crazy! It’s a lot of fun.

One of the most beautiful and emotional songs in this musical is Anthem. The Russian chess player sings about his emotions, it’s amazing, especially with the choir in the background. Similar to this one is the Mountain Duet, a love song of course ;). Oh or You and I, I love this song!!!

The song called Chess is a total instrumental one and occurs more than once. It’s when the Chess game is happening and we only have dancers on stage. The music is actually from the endgame, the melody is just played by instruments.

There are more songs in this musical and they are all fab as well, but I mentioned the ones that mean something to me.

You have seen videos of some songs now, on YouTube there is the concert version in the Royal Albert Hall with Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, Kerri Ellis and Adam Pascal. This version is amazing!!! Not like a musical, but still with a bit of acting and dancing. I started watching this and couldn’t stop anymore, just got hooked.

This is similar to our version, but not quite. The one closest to ours I found is from Denmark. It’s only the sang version on YouTube, but it sounds awesome.

Act 1

Act 2

Rehearsing these songs is so much fun and I can’t wait to perform them on stage!!!

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