BETTY'S OTHER TRIUMPH
Coinciding with her rave reviews in Triumph of Love at the Royale Theatre, Betty Buckley has released her newest album on the Sterling Records label, Much More. The CD, which borrows its title from the Schmidt/Jones tune from The Fantasticks, is Buckley's first solo work to be recorded in the studio since With One Look, and the Tony winner's voice is in superb shape. Buckley has shed the darker Norma Desmond sound she adopted to great effect for Sunset Boulevard, returning to a glorious sweetness and a steeliness that is evocative of her live concert recording for Rizzoli Records a decade ago. On her new release, the actress offers riveting versions of some of the most classic torch songs.
Cabaret singer Andrea Marcovicci once joked that she considers a torch song any song about lost love for which "I torture myself onstage for [an audience's] benefit." Many torch singers might agree with this statement, and Buckley does to a degree; however, from this starting point she takes a decidedly unique and refreshing spin. While there is a good deal of pain expressed over lost love in her interpretations, there is also a complete understanding of the ironies of life and a sense that new love may be just around the corner, a wisdom that comes with maturity.
Produced by Buckley and Kenny Werner, the CD boasts five arrangements by the Tony-winning orchestrator Jonathan Tunick ("Much More," "The Man That Got Away," "Laura," "Lush Life" and "It Must Be So") with the remainder by Werner and Buckley. What is most enjoyable about this collection of classics is the novel manner in which many of the songs are presented. Take Buckley's interpretation of "Cry Me a River": In addition to the requisite anger that is displayed when singers take on this song, Buckley also expresses a subtle sense of glee in watching an ex-lover suffer. It is also remarkable the shape in which this recording finds her voice: Just listen to the way Buckley soars up to the high E flat in "Cry me a river, cry me a river, I cried a river over you."
The almost ethereal quality of Buckley's voice is best represented in some of the quieter moments of the recording in a haunting delivery of "Laura" or a gorgeous rendering in both English and French of "Autumn Leaves." Buckley is well aware of the power of her belt, but listen to the way she caresses a note in this wistful memory of a lost love.
Perhaps the most beautiful song offered on her new set is Leonard Bernstein's "It Must Be So" from Candide, with its wealth of melody that in Buckley's hands becomes a cathartic meditation on life.
Three of the most-requested musicals in the RCA Victor catalogue have just been issued on CD: Goodtime Charley, Rex and
The Golden Apple.
SPOTLIGHT: Judi Connelli
One of Australia's leading musical theatre actresses, Judi Connelli (Into the Woods, Chicago) recently made her full-length U.S. concert debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, where she demonstrated a dramatic intensity that was utterly beguiling. Connelli possesses a dark, throbbing contralto that she uses to wonderful effect on her third solo album, On My Way To You. The dynamic performer offers a diverse collection of tunes, including several from Marilyn and Alan Bergman ("Ordinary Miracles," "A Piece of Sky," "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?") plus a generous selection of show tunes ("Losing My Mind," "With One Look"); available from "I Hear Voices" Entertainment, Inc.-- By Andrew Gans