Album review: Barbra Streisand, Classical Barbra (Sony Masterworks)


These days, every two-bit MoR belter gets to make a “classical” album; but when Barbra Streisand released Classical Barbra in 1976, it was a rare and risky gambit.

To her credit, it's not too bad: she eschews showy arias in favour of more intimate lieder, which means her usual stentorian dramatics are replaced by an oddly muted manner. And in the case of “Beau Soir”, at least, her heavy vibrato is well suited to the dreamlike air by the teenage Debussy. Elsewhere, Fauré's “Pavane” is arranged as a vocalisé, Streisand's wordless vocal taking the lead line amid a whirl of emotive orchestration; but the best thing here is “Lascia ch'io pianga”, from Handel's Rinaldo, which she handles with admirable restraint.

Download: Lascia ch'io pianga; Beau Soir; Pavane