“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.” It’s very difficult to read that lyric and not hear the Tchaikovsky ballet melody from Sleeping Beauty play in your head. While Walt Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty is now celebrating its 55th anniversary, the score from the original ballet lived without lyrics for 69 years before audiences were treated to Disney’s version. Walt Disney Records’ The Legacy Collection continues with its third installment in the prestigious soundtrack collection with Sleeping Beauty.
If you’re a Disney fan, you probably already own the complete soundtrack to Sleeping Beauty, which has been available on CD since 1996. Randy Thornton did an excellent job presenting the complete score from the film and it was remastered in 2008 for the 50th Anniversary. Disc 1 of this release appears to be identical to that disc, which is absolutely fine. It left no room for improvement and includes all of your favorite songs and score from the film in the order they appear in the picture. Listening to the score outside of the film allows you to hear the full arrangements. You will definitely hear pieces that you never knew were there before.
Disc 2 has the misfortune of being compared to the second discs on the previous two releases. For The Lion King, the disc was full of Hans Zimmer demos. More impressive was disc 2 of Mary Poppins, which featured demos for eight songs from the film by the Sherman Brothers and Lost Chords for seven songs (demos and new recordings). Disc 2 of Sleeping Beauty has ten tracks and a runtime of 31 minutes. The content presented is great, but with the bar set so high by the previous releases this disc feels a little underwhelming.
The first six tracks of disc 2 makeup the Lost Chords section where three songs are presented as original demos and new recordings in the style of the film. But first, some historical context. Sammy Fain and Jack Lawrence were assigned to write songs for Sleeping Beauty in 1950 and they had a full film of songs before Walt decided to use the Tchaikovsky music. The pair were reassigned to work on Peter Pan, but before they left the production they wrote the lyrics for “Once Upon a Dream.” The first Lost Chord is called “It Happens I Have a Picture,” a song written by Fain and Lawrence to be sung by King Steffan and King Hubert. In the demo, the voices of Steffan and Hubert are Hans Conried, who voiced Captain Hook, and Bill Thompson who voiced Mr. Smee and ultimately portrayed Hubert. This is the only song from the Fain/Lawrence score that is presented on this disc, but two songs (“The Holiday Song” and “Go to Sleep”) were on the Platinum Edition Blu-Ray. Their exclusion on this set is puzzling, as are all of the other songs yet to be released.
Two more Lost Chords are found on this disc. These use Tchaikovsky music heard in the score of the film with lyrics by other contributors. “Riddle Diddle One, Two, Three” is a song the fairies would have sung while getting ready for Aurora’s birthday with lyrics by Winston Hibler and Ted Sears (Hibler can be heard in the recording booth at the beginning of these demos). In the demo, Verna Felton and Barbara Jo Allen (voices of Flora and Fauna) sing their roles, with Colleen Collins substituting as Merryweather (voiced by Barbara Luddy in the film). The final Lost Chord is “Evil – Evil,” a song for Maleficent’s goons to sing with lyrics by Tom Adair. This demo is also sung by Hans Conried and Bill Thompson.
When Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959, the soundtrack was the first stereo soundtrack album ever released. As was typical for the time, a couple of songs from the film were recorded differently for the album to present a more perfect listening experience. These two alternate recordings are presented as tracks eight and nine, which are “Blue Bird/I Wonder” and “Woodland Symphony/Once Upon a Dream.” Mary Costa held her operatic voice back a little in the film to make Aurora sound 16-years old, but these recordings display a more theatrical quality to her voice. There is also room for doubt that her duet partner on “Once Upon a Dream” is Bill Shirley. This sounds little like the Prince Phillip heard in the film and the book included in the set mentions that the song sometimes failed to credit the male voice, which might be Bill Lee of the Mello Men in this version.
In 1961, The Parent Trap charmed audiences around the world and cemented Hayley Mills as a household name. That film featured songs by the Sherman Brothers and a soundtrack that included Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands. What does this have to do with Sleeping Beauty? Well, to round out the soundtrack for that film, which didn’t have enough songs to fill a full record, Tutti Camarata made new arrangements of songs from Sleeping Beauty. Tracks seven and ten come from this album. They are “Sleeping Beauty Overture” and “Love Theme from Sleeping Beauty.” The latter is my favorite version of this music and will forever be a featured addition on homemade Disney playlists.
The packaging is housed in a matte finished digibook that matches the style of the previous releases. Showing some color variation, the spine and discs of this set are purple instead of navy blue like The Lion King and Mary Poppins. The case features newly created artwork by Walt Disney Animation Studios artist Lorelay Bove. Her work can be found throughout the 24 page book as well. The first section of the book gives the history of the film and voice casting, written by Disney historian Paula Sigman-Lowry. The next section is “The Lost Chords” by Russell Schroeder. He tells more history behind all of the songs written for the film (which makes it even more confusing that only three unused songs are included). This is followed by a Producer’s Note from Randy Thornton that explains the four bonus tracks that come after The Lost Chords. Next comes a selection of lyrics followed by Dave Bossert’s tribute to the work of Eyvind Earle, with four pieces of concept art and two backgrounds.
Sleeping Beauty has a classic soundtrack that belongs not only in the collection of every Disney fan, but also fans of Tchaikovsky and classical music connoisseurs. The Legacy Collection offers the best way to own this great collection of music. While The Lost Chords section seems a little light, knowing that more songs were written for the film, it’s better to have three of them than not at all. The alternate recordings make for nice bonus tracks and its easy to see why Randy Thornton chose to include them. Overall, The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty is worth upgrading to for fans that already own the soundtrack and buying this set seems like a no-brainer to anybody looking to build their Disney music library for the first time.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.