Wednesday, September 07, 2011

She Loves Him: Kate Baldwin Live at Feinstein's

The "him" that Kate Baldwin loves is the amazing Sheldon Harnick, lyricist of such classic shows as She Loves Me, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Apple Tree, and honored guest on this CD. And what's not to love? His range is broad, from romance to satire to history to heartbreak, and his lyrics are smart, funny, and sometimes breathtaking. I'm particularly fond of this section of "He Tossed a Coin" (not on this CD) from the Rothschilds:
Old coins, rare coins, treasures of an ancient kingdom
Numismatic wonders from days of old
Curios of silver, rarities of gold
You've got to like a guy who can use "numismatic" in a lyric, yet write something as simple and perfect as this ("Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler):
Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older, when did they?

Baldwin sings Harnick's "When Did I Fall in Love?," "A Trip to the Library," "Will He Like Me," a Fiddler medley, "Gorgeous," and more. Her soprano is clear and sweet, and she serves the songs and their stories superbly. But you know what? Harnick steals the CD with his heartfelt, full-throated rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man." And their duets on "To Life," "Dear Sweet Sewing Machine," "In My Own Lifetime," and "Sunrise, Sunset" are a sheer joy. The extraordinary band consists of music director Scott Cady at the piano, Andrew Sterman on an amazing array of woodwinds, and John Beale on bass.

The CD's one weakness is that Baldwin's patter doesn't hold up to repeated listenings. However, the invaluable PS Classics made the smart decision to put the patter interludes on their own tracks, so that they can be skipped when listening or transferring the CD to your iPod.

Do you suppose that in four or five decades, a young person will arrange a tribute evening to Kate Baldwin? I hope so. And I hope that PS Classics is around to record it.

(press copy)

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