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My Funny Valentine - Frederica Von Stade Sings Rodgers & Hart


Release Date: 08/29/2007 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 54071   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von StadeLynda RichardsonRosemary AshePeta Bartlett
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraAmbrosian Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a disc which repays repeated listening. The choice of songs is an attractive mix of the familiar and the obscure. (I stumped a specialist friend with “Atlantic Blues.“) They are performed, by and large, in their original orchestrations, mostly by Hans Spialek. The arrangements are delightful, and the frequent dance breaks a special pleasure.

The star of the occasion is shown on the booklet cover beaming that radiant smile which conveys so many of her special qualities as an artist. Having won her musical comedy spurs in Kern and Porter, she moves here into repertoire that makes new interpretive demands. These she meets with characteristic intelligence, integrity, and emotional honesty.

As you might
Read more expect, von Stade approaches these songs directly and with great fidelity to the printed rhythms. A lot of care has gone into adjusting her voice to the new musical demands; she's particularly successful with her chest register, where she manages to suggest that “speaking“ naturalness of delivery which is so much a part of Broadway vocal style. (Listen to the verse of “Where or When“ for a good example of this.) The voice remains that of an opera singer, of course, and if you prefer a voice less rich in overtones in this kind of music, you may find yourself coming down with right-brain overload. That was certainly my first reaction, but I persevered, and ended up changing my mind. I'm glad I did.

Von Stade also works hard to find a direct American sound to her diction, with general success. Occasionally she strains after casualness, as in the overfrequent substitution of “d“ for “t,“ which verges on the self-conscious. She also has an odd habit of cheating final consonants at the end of phrases: the first number might almost be “My Funny ValeriTTE.“ (Somebody should also have checked the correct pronunciation of “tousled“ in the same song.) These are minor flaws.

That smile offers clues to the substantial successes of this album, as well as to its occasional failures. We have no wanner, no more spiritually aligned opera star today than Frederica von Stade—think of her Charlotte and Cinderella, or those ardent lads like Cherubino and Octavian. Sunniness and generosity of spirit also underlie her Magnolia in Show Boat and her Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes. Grief, sorrow, yearning, or anger are given their due, but we can be confident that self-healing has already begun.

The songs that I find most memorable on this album are those in which she can take advantage of these unique qualities: the line “And if my life is blessed with joys, I owe each thing to you“ (in “I Must Love You“) could stand as a von Stade archetype. She captures the longing of “You're Nearer“ beautifully, and “Where or When“ is simply lovely, the melody a gift to her voice—and vice versa. The crowning gems are “Bye and Bye“ and “A Ship Without a Sail.“ In the first, the sunburst of the second refrain, with its intimate, personal tone, is something quite special; for the second, that sublime outpouring of pain and loss, she finds a parched, “lost“ sound, tinged with just the right hint of melancholy and self-pity. Both of these numbers find von Stade more willing than elsewhere to let the words bend the musical line to vivid effect; at moments like these, she sounds like the great, imaginative artist we know from her operatic work.

I think it's fair to say that she is not quite as successful with those numbers where the underlying masochism or despair of a Hart lyric should pull against the surface gorgeousness of its Rodgers melody. “I Didn't Know What Time It Was“ simply didn't come off for me. Neither did the witty “To Keep My Love Alive,“ admittedly a tricky piece, or “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.“ John McGlinn calls the latter lyric “cold, ironic and totally self-absorbed“; von Stade hardens her tone and tries to sound cynical, but who would ever cast her as Mrs. Prentiss Simpson, Pal Joey's hard-bitten society matron? When von Stade sings “the laugh's on me,“ there's plenty of rue but little pain beneath. The rendition isn't embarrassing, merely out of focus.

McGlinn's conducting shows familiar virtues—apt tempos and a pleasing directness of style— and familiar failings—notably a lack of taut inner rhythm in the fast numbers. I wish he had encouraged von Stade to play more freely with the words: she wouldn't hesitate to do so in Offenbach, Mozart, or Rossini, so why not here? The notes include full data about original productions and performers, and complete texts; more specific plot information would have been welcome.

-- Nicholas Deutsch, FANFARE [5/1991] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Heads Up!: A ship without a sail by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Language: English 
2.
Babes in arms: Where or when by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Language: English 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
3.
The Boys from Syracuse: Falling in Love with Love by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Language: English 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
4.
Pal Joey: Bewitched, bothered and bewildered by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USA 
Language: English 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
5.
Babes in arms: My funny valentine by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
6.
Chee-Chee: I must love you by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Roy Webb 
7.
Too Many Girls: I didn't know what time it was by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
8.
Chee-Chee: Moon of my delight by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Roy Webb 
9.
I'd Rather Be Right: Everybody loves you by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
10.
Too Many Girls: Love never went to college by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
11.
On Your Toes: Quiet night by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 
12.
A Connecticut Yankee: To keep my love alive by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Don Walker 
13.
Too Many Girls: You're nearer by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Larry Moore and Hans Spialek 
14.
Betsy: If I were you by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Lynda Richardson (Mezzo Soprano), Rosemary Ashe (Soprano), Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano),
Peta Bartlett ()
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
Notes: Orck: Stephen Jones and Hans Spialek 
15.
Two Weeks With Pay: Now that I know you by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Maurice de Packh 
16.
Dearest Enemy: Bye and bye by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated: Emil Gerstenberger 
17.
Lido Lady: Atlantic blues by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  John McGlinn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; London, England 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hans Spialek 

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