Nobody’s gonna rain on Barbra Streisand’s parade. Earlier this year, the Columbia Records artist earned her seventh consecutive Top 10 entry and 32nd overall Top 10 disc with Release Me, a collection of previously-vaulted material spanning her entire career. Streisand embarked on a series of sold-out concert dates in support of the album, and has just seen the big screen release of The Guilt Trip, a comedy in which she stars opposite Seth Rogen. Though a second volume of Release Me was promised, it appears that another album containing previously-unissued music will precede it. It’s being reported that, on February 5, Sony Masterworks will reissue 1976’s Classical Barbra in a remastered edition containing two previously unissued bonus tracks.
Though recorded in 1973, Classical Barbra was first issued in 1976 between the Rupert Holmes-produced Lazy Afternoon LP and the soundtrack album to A Star is Born. It couldn’t have been more different from those projects, however, as its twelve tracks were drawn from the European classical repertoire of composers including Claude Debussy, Carl Orff, George Frideric Handel, and Robert Schumann. The entire album was crafted under the direction of Claus Ogerman, the German-born producer, arranger and composer who had previously worked on the concert stage with Streisand as well as on the Stoney End LP. (In addition, his arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” can be heard on Release Me.) Ogerman brought to the table his wide-ranging experience with artists ranging from Bill Evans and Lesley Gore to Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and also composed the album’s closing track and sole original composition, “I Loved You.” (Its lyrics were adapted from Alexander Pushkin’s poetry.) Streisand was at her most virtuosic on this collection, singing not only in English, but in French, Occitan, German, Italian and Latin. Ogerman’s symphonic backdrop lushly supported Streisand’s vocals.
There’s much more after the jump!
Francesco Scavullo took the album’s striking cover photograph. For the notes, no less an eminence than Leonard Bernstein wrote, “Barbra Streisand’s natural ability to make music takes her over to the classical field with extraordinary ease. It’s clear that she loves these songs. In her sensitive, straightforward, and enormously appealing performance, she has given us a very special musical experience.” Bernstein wasn’t the album’s only fan. Classical pianist Glenn Gould favorably reviewed the album in a 1976 magazine and later commented that “Streisand is extraordinary. I don’t know of any other singer, with the exception of [operatic soprano] Elizabeth Schwarzkopf who has impressed me as much.”
Yet, two pieces composed by Franz Schubert were left off the finished album when Classical Barbra was released in 1976. Both of those compositions, “An Sylvia (To Sylvia)” and “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen,” have both been restored for the upcoming CD edition. The latter was performed in a much more comedic rendition by Streisand on her Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments television special, also from 1973. It’s been said that an orchestrated version of Ogerman’s “I Loved You” was also recorded for the album, but that recording will not be included. In its place, a piano-and-voice version was chosen to close out the album.
Upon its release, Classical Barbra placed at a none-too-shabby No. 46 on the Billboard 200. While the album fell short of the artist’s higher berths for her pop material, it was an impressive showing for an album of classical music. It was eventually certified gold, with over 500,000 units sold. Though Classical Barbra has long been available on CD, this release marks its first expanded overhaul. Thirteen-time Grammy-winning producer Steven Epstein has overseen the remastering for the new edition.
The upgraded and remastered Classical Barbra arrives in stores from Sony Masterworks on February 5, 2013 and can be pre-ordered below!
Barbra Streisand, Classical Barbra: Expanded Edition (Columbia Masterworks LP M-33452, 1976 – reissued Sony Masterworks, 2013)
- “Beau Soir” (Debussy)
- “Brezairola – Berceuse” (Canteloube)
- “Verschwiegene Liebe” (Wolf)
- “Pavane (Vocalisé)” (Fauré)
- “Après un Rêve” (Fauré)
- “In Trutina” (Orff)
- “Lascia ch’io pianga” (Handel)
- “Mondnacht” (Schumann)
- “Dank sei Dir, Herr” (Ochs)
- “I Loved You” (Ogerman)
- “An Sylvia (To Sylvia)” (Schubert) (previously unreleased)
- “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen” (Schubert) (previously unreleased)