Beautiful Girl: The Essential Barbara Cook On Disc

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09 Nov 2013

Show Boat: 1966 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast Recording

This is actually Cook's second recording of Magnolia in Show Boat, having previously essayed the part in a 1962 studio album, opposite John Raitt. Perhaps because this later version reflects her more developed performance in an actual stage run, I prefer it over the earlier, but I'm splitting hairs. It's easy to see why Cook's presence would be warranted on two separate Show Boat — and why I would favor this one, where she only sings a couple of songs, over several full-length solo albums omitted from my list. She is a dream vocalist for Jerome Kern's soaring melodies. There are any number of sopranos who could float and crescendo as Cook does in "You Are Love," but not one of them could do it with the feeling she conveys. It is not just glorious; it is genuinely moving.


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