A dazzling, unforgettable all-time concert classic
Reviewer123 | 08/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm close to exhausting my superlatives on Miss Cook - but words can't really do justice to her marvelous recorded output over the years. While virtually every record she made is special in its own way, this particular recording of her "comeback" at Carnegie Hall in 1975 may be her very finest recording. I give it pride of place in my collection as the finest popular music concert recording of all time- the first time I heard it I was stunned, and I have never ceased to be amazed. Where can one start? Every song is a gem. The arrangements by Wally Harper are perfect. Cook, who has one of the finest Broadway and cabaret voices of all time, was in exceptionally good voice. And she had learned to connect with the meaning of a song in a deeper way than in her Broadway career. She's in a great mood, and so is the audience - it makes for an entrancing evening. Her signature song, "Sing a song with me" is sung with confidence, feeling and a merry, jaunty air. "Wait till you see him" is sung with breathless wonder. She delivers the complete lyrics and the definitive version of "My White Knight" - it soars and shimmers like the white knight in the song. There are sad, sweet renditions of "A Song for You" and "My Father". There's a pensive, deeply felt "Who are you now?" and a light, reassuring "It takes nothing away from me". There's a "Carolina in the morning" as full of brio as Judy Garland's, and of course the classic "She Loves Me" medley of "Dear Friend", "Will he like me?" and "Ice cream" - splendidly, deliciously sung. There's a version of "A house is not a home" that's very different from, but every bit as good as, Dionne Warwick's and Luther Vandross's versions. "My White Knight" is for me the highlight of the recording, but it's closely followed by her classic medley of "He was too good to be true/ Time heals everything" (when she sings that last "Time heals everything" my heart just breaks) and her remarkable "When I marry Mr. Snow". A merrier, more sparkling and utterly delightful rendition of this song has never been sung - she would have been the ideal Carrie in the musical.Everyone has their favorite singer - Barbara Cook is definitely up there with the greatest in my personal pantheon - but this concert was more than just a great performance by a favorite performer. The joy, the artistry, the technical skill, the complexity of arrangements, the variety, the incredible rapport with the audience - all of these make it an unforgettable performance. I would love to have been there, but I'm grateful that I have the recording and my imagination to take me there whenever I wish. For this recording, 5 stars are not enough!"
An auspicious concert debut by a Broadway favorite
dungeonmaster201 | Cortlandt Manor, NY United States | 04/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When you ask someone who their favorite Broadway soprano is, some say Audra McDonald, Rebecca Luker, Marin Mazzie or even (unfortunately) Sarah Brightman, however most are quick to say Barbara Cook, the legendary soprano who graced the Broadway stage from 1951-1971. She won good reviews in all her shows, regardless of how the shows themselves were received. Beginning with the disastrous "Flahooley", and the moderately successful "Plain and Fancy", to her City Center roles as Ado Annie in "Oklahoma!" and Carrie Pipperidge" in Carousel", she hit became a Broadway legend when she switched to coloratura soprano "ingenue" (a false stamp for this actress-singer) in the unsuccessful original production of "Candide". Her death-defying vocalize in the mock aria-jewel song "Glitter and Be Gay" is definitive (her Eb's above top C are impeccable). There's also her Tony-winning performance as Marian the Librarian in the original production of "The Music Man". "The Gay Life", her signature role as Amalia Balish in "She Loves Me", her acclaimed Mrs. Anna in "The King and I" at City Center and her final Broadway appearance (to date) as Dolly Talbo in the pleasant musical flop, "The Grass Harp". (She made other recordings and appearances in book musicals: "Follies in Concert", "The Secret Garden" - London Studio set, among others, but never another extended run).Cook embarked on a highly successful new career as a cabaret artist beginning with her live Carnegie Hall concert debut, which was wonderfully preserved on this recording. She gets things off to a marvelous start with her signature tune "Sing a Song With Me" - that top C bookending the show. She displays that pure (and rangy) lyric soprano combined with her trademark emotional intensity; a combination for which she is most respected and admired.In her first outing, Cook showcased much of her musical theatre repertoire, revisiting many of her most famous shows. She presented "Magic Moment" from The Gay Life", her familiar medley from "She Loves Me" ("Dear Friend", "Will He Like Me?" and the fact she can still hit the high B natural in "Ice Cream' today is incredible, let alone how marvelous it sounds here) But the real curio on this recording is an original version of "My White Knight" from "The Music Man". The song is almost twice as long as the famous original, adding an extended patter list prior to the actual ballad. It begins with "All I want..." and continues in a rather comic tone, before making a transition to the familiar ballad of yearning. Quite a display of emotions there. It is a real treat and worth the price of the CD alone.Also offered is a chance to feel her interpretation of Carrie in "Carousel" as she delights with "Mister Snow". Also standing out "Who Are You Now?" from "Funny Girl" and "Time Heals Everything" from "Mack and Mabel". She also dabbles in pop music by intrepeting "A House is Not a Home". Cook also brings down the house with "Carolina in the Morning". There isn't one dud on the entire album.Cook cannot fail to please on this recording, which is made more evident by the overwhelming response of the live audience. She proves that it takes more than just pretty notes to convey a song. (Also look into her second Carnegie Hall concert on disc: the charming "It's Better With a Band") She is a living legend.For any serious fan of Broadway or Ms. Cook, there is no excuse to exclude this mandatory recording from any collection."
Anthony Louis | USA | 02/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD captures the artist at her peak. The concert is thoroughly enjoyable. A CD to be listened to again and again."