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09 July 2013

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, “Speak Low”

Speak Low

TRACK FOUR of Back to Broadway is "Speak Low" from One Touch of Venus (1943) by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash. A standard recorded by several jazz singers, the song gets a similar jazzy treatment on this album. The saxophone-infused arrangement by David Foster and Johnny Mandel is evocative of the sensual Ava Gardner, who portrated the goddess Venus in the film version of the play. Barbra Streisand matches the sexiness with a vocal that is both breathy and laid-back. This could have been the album's radio hit.

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, “The Music of the Night”

The Music of the Night

TRACK THREE of Back to Broadway is “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera (1986) by Andrew Lloyd Webster, Charles Hart, and Richard Stilgoe. This is perhaps the most-performed song from the Broadway play, selling millions of copies in several languages worldwide. Barbra Streisand sings it with Michael Crawford, whom Ms. Streisand starred with in the film version of Hello, Dolly! (1969). It is a dramatic performance. The harmony provides for Mr. Crawford to lead the melody of the song, a nice touch since he made this famous on Broadway and on British Top 10 charts.

08 July 2013

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, “Some Enchanted Evening”

Some Enchanted Evening

OPENING THE album Back to Broadway is “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific. Written in 1949 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the song is the biggest-selling show hit from the legendary songwriting duo. Its catchy melody is in fact quite difficult to sing: there are half notes in between, and it ends with a high note that “soars” away, true to the lyrics “fly to his side” and “never let him go”. Barbra Streisand navigates the song effortlessly, and her voice is supple. Johnny Mandel brings his usual brand of elegance into the string-laden orchestration. The performance is an exquisite way to open the album.

07 July 2013

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, “Back to Broadway”

TWENTY YEARS ago, Barbra Streisand released her twenty-sixth album, Back to Broadway, a collection of songs from Broadway musicals that served as a follow-up to the universally-acclaimed The Broadway Album in 1985. On this new tome, Ms. Streisand interprets the most legendary composers: Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Frank Loesser, Kurt Weill, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It quickly rose to the top of the US Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, her seventh album to become #1.

My nephew gets married!

Basil Alkhadra Then and Now

Basil Alkhadra, then and now

MY NEPHEW Basil Alkhadra is now a married man. He tied the knot with his girlfriend, Gabrielle Glow, at a seaside spot in California this week. He's the very first of my nephews and nieces to be married, so it's an exciting moment. There are no wedding photos posted yet, except for a couple that my sister Kathleen (his mother) sent me on WhatsApp. From what I've seen, the newlyweds were pictures of youthful joy.

Congratulations, Basil and Gabrielle! May you have a lifetime of healthy togetherness!

Restoring "Maynila"

Maynila Poster

ONE OF the greatest films in Philippine history has been digitally restored—wonderful news for those generations who may not have seen the movie in full splendor. Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Light) by the legendary Lino Brocka (1939-1991) tells the tragic drama of Julio (played by Rafael "Bembol" Roco in his film debut), a fisherman who travels to Manila in search of his girlfriend Ligaya (Hilda Koronel). The city's cruel and alien ways disenchants him; eventually it eats him up and leaves him hopeless. Shot during the repressive martial law period of President Ferdinand Marcos' rule, the film carries hard-hitting metaphors for political corruption and decay.