Frederica von Stade and John McGlinn give us an extraordinary recording of Rodgers & Hart classics.
Frederica von Stade turns in first-rate performances on all these songs, imbuing "My Funny Valentine" and its gently sardonic lyrics with genuine romanticism.
The real gems of the collection are "I Didn't Know What Time it Was," "Where or When," and "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered."
"I Didn't Know What Time It Was" is simply enchanting. Von Stade's interpretation of the introductory verse oozes innocent sexuality. Her treatment of the song's body is magical.
"Where or When" is entrancing, indeed haunting.
And von Stade's exuberant performance of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" is truly stunning. It's unquestionably the finest that I have heard -- anywhere.
The song's original lyrics present an unabashed celebration of feminine sexuality. Far too explicit for Hollywood, the lyrics were cleaned up for the 1957 movie "Pal Joey." Most recorded covers of the song are similarly bowdlerized, to eliminate its blatant sexual allusions.
Frederica von Stade's rendition not only is true the original's celebration of women's sexuality, she delivers the song's words with a disarming and utterly believable enthusiasm. "I'm vexed again, perplexed again, thank God I can be oversexed again . . . "
Thank God for Von Stade's interpretation of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered." It is truly a masterpiece.
Eric Alan Isaacson