Some long time Audiophilia readers may think this will be a negative review because of the singer/repertoire match. Many classical singers have done the opposite and came a cropper attempting popular song (Kiri Te Kanawa and Fredericka Von Stade, among them), producing dreadful, cloying, mismatched recordings. Download Kiri singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ if you want a flawless example. Not many popular singers have attempted what Streisand did in 1973 (the CD was originally released in 1976, and this review is of the remastered 2013 release).
I remember this CD’s initial release very clearly as it caused some ructions in our household. My father was anti Barbra from way back and my identical twin was observing the second coming. I was in my ‘I’m a classical flutist and conductor only’ stage, so my snobby teenage view was even more ridiculously exaggerated.
Funny how the years change opinions. This CD is a real beauty. Beauty of sound, of heart, and of inspiration. Backed by the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and with Sinatra’s main guy, the great Claus Ogerman providing the ‘arrangements’, Streisand imbues her unique sound upon each track while maintaining a vivid personality. Unlike the other route with Kiri, et al, trying to swing, rein in the vibrato, or trying a head tone for once, Streisand can sustain a line, uses delicate vibrato, and can support and hold a phrase longer than any popular singer. Most importantly, she loves the music, and it shows.
If you purchase this very fine remastering (still, lots of ’70s ’studio sound’, but very pleasant, nonetheless) expecting Christa Ludwig in Schubert and Wolf (it contains the first ever release of two additional tracks recorded during the original sessions but never available until now: Schubert’s An Sylvia and Auf dem Wasser zu singen), Kathleen Battle in Orff or Kiri in Canteloube, forget it. Go straight to the classical section. If you want to hear gorgeous music (listen first to Streisand’s beautiful vocalizing in Faure’s Pavane) sung from the heart with guts and good technique, then Babs is your man.
Seems, my brother was right all along.