Barbara Cook

Sings From the Heart

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After years of favorable notices in Broadway musicals that flopped -- Flahooley (1951), Plain and Fancy (1955), Candide (1956) -- sweet-voiced soprano Barbara Cook finally got lucky with 1957's smash hit from The Music Man. The resulting notoriety brought her the opportunity to sign with tiny Urania Records, which released her debut album, Songs of Perfect Propriety, and this follow-up. Sings From the Heart contained a pun in its title, since Cook was singing the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, set to the melodies of Richard Rodgers, songs taken from the team's shows of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. The singer made excellent choices, including standards like "My Funny Valentine" and "Glad to Be Unhappy," along with lesser-known selections such as "You Have Cast Your Shadow on the Sea" and "Ship Without a Sail." Her warm, delicate voice was well-suited to these romantic ballads, though she did not yet sing with the degree of feeling she would possess in later years. (The great exception was "He Was Too Good to Me," sung with all the plaintive emotion the lyric demanded). Orchestrator/conductor Arthur Harris gave her supportive, unobtrusive musical settings that kept the spotlight on that wonderful voice. Cook made a point of singing the introductory verses to the songs (usually dropped by pop singers), which lent them greater context and meaning. The album gave fans previously forced to listen to isolated examples of Cook's talent on cast albums the opportunity to have a full collection of her work, and it demonstrated that her belated stage success was well deserved.

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