Matthew Gurewitsch
Matthew Gurewitsch
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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At Juilliard, Barbara Cook shares her recipe for success
That master class (an encore)

August 13, 2017  •  Wall Street Journal (December 14, 2005)

New York. "It's about communication," Barbara Cook said in late November, anticipating her next master class at The Juilliard School. "I specifically ask the students to bring in songs they connect with emotionally. But then they hide. They bring in singy stuff, operetta stuff, stuff with jokes. But of course, they don't know they're hiding."

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Being Barbara Cook
A legend remembered

August 12, 2017

We were on our way to the beach on August 8 when the news came over the air: the Broadway star and matchless interpreter of the Great American Songbook, had died of respiratory failure that morning in New York at age 89. I'd last heard Barbara's voice, also on the radio, on June 30, when Fresh Air re-ran an interview Terry Gross conducted just over a year ago upon publication of Barbara's memoir Then and Now. The encore was prompted by Barbara's announcement that she was retiring. I shot her a mash note that afternoon, but never heard back, which seemed a sign.

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From the Archives: Authentic Cook
Whatever she does—give concerts, perform in nightclubs, teach top students, Barbara Cook does from the heartWhatever she does—give concerts, perform in nightclubs, teach top students, Barbara Cook does from the heart

August 12, 2017  •  Town & Country

After a half-century at the top of her profession, Barbara

Cook has a word of advice: Be yourself. That's where safety lies.

It has worked for her. When she flew in from Atlanta at age 20 to set the Big Apple on fire, it took a single audition to launch her as Broadway's finest singing ingénue. With her honey-blond hair, shy, sensuous smile and eyes big as saucers, she definitely had the look, though her résumé

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Baroque and beyond
Looking back on Catch of the Day #19 (August 6, 2017)

August 11, 2017

J.S. Bach's Inventions & Sinfonias—the former in two parts, the latter in three—appear on the lesson plan for budding pianists everywhere. Karin Kei Nagano gives the bass lines lots of bounce, but the overall impression registers as smooth, uninflected, and glassy, like enamel. Though performing on a modern concert grand, Nagano works in an unvaried dynamic, not too soft, not too loud. That she performs the individual numbers out of sequence hints at a personal agenda, which I gather she touches on in a liner note. Having sampled the first four sinfonias in Nagano's order—C major, D minor, E minor, F major)—I have no clue what it is (Analekta AN 28771).

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Be yourself: everyone else is taken
Looking back on Catch of the Day #18 (July 30, 2017)

August 5, 2017

Folksong is a spring to which art song is forever returning. Federico García Lorca's Canciones españolas antiguas and Xavier Montsalvatge's Cinco canciones negras belong to a vast repertoire of homespun music of the people dressed up in its Sunday best for a "better" or at any rate choosier class of listener. Selections from both of these groups and others of like provenance feature on the new album Alma Española (Bridge 9491), a showcase for the bewitching talents Isabel Leonard, mezzo soprano, and Sharon Isbin, guitar. (Most of the arrangements are Isbin's own, substituting the real thing for an 88-key imitation.) We listened in on Lorca's epigrammatic and somewhat enigmatic "El café de Chinitas," "Las morillas de Jaén," and "Anda, jaleo,," with Montsalvatge's sensual lullaby "Canción de cuna para dormer a un negrito" and rambunctious "Canto negro" as encores. My studio partner Paul Janes-Brown found the performances lacking in "passion," by which he meant a gutsy, guttural gypsy edge. (I checked.) To me, that complaint is way off the mark. The point of such arrangements is never "authenticity." It's atmosphere. It's sophistication. Perfume. Who needs faux flamenco?

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Books by Matthew Gurewitsch

Cover of Rafal Olbinski Women Cover of When Stars Blow Out

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