true to life, and life is good

Barbra Streisand, The Concert (Columbia)
Barbra Streisand

By Jean Metcalfe

Careful now, this is the stretch of Hwy. 146 where a deer came out of nowhere, snapped the mirror off my son's car and disappeared into the night. I should have picked a better place to listen to this CD.

Too late. The overture of the live recording has already done its job. I remind myself that l'm driving an automobile, not sitting in Madison Square Garden.

In two discs, Barbra Streisand, The Concert is almost as good as being there. The abundant, much-deserved applause is certainly present, especially when the hometown (and welcome Streisand back to New York City after a 27-year absence.

She opens with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "As If We Never Said Goodbye," which sports new lyrics written especially for the occasion. The fans' reaction when she sings the words "now I'm standing center stage at last" can best be described in David Lettermanese: They "blow the roof off the dump."

All of Streisand's big hits are included in this wonderfully paced, diverse concert. Outstanding among the show tune covers is a "duet" with Marlon Brando on "I'll Know" from "Guys & Dolls," using interspliced recordings a la the Nat King Cole/Natalie Cole duct, "Unforgettable." Lots of highlights in this collection.

As one might expect of such a colossal project, everything is top drawer; Streisand's 64-piece orchestra, under the direction of award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, surely hews to that high standard.

The only sour note for this writer is having to drive with one hand ~ the other was busy cranking up the volume between songs to hear Streisand's delightful patter.