Barbara Cook
“Barbara Cook is the Greatest Theatrical Singer in concert at the moment.”
- The London Times
“We shall not see her like again -- there’s just no one to take her place!”
- Musical Stages
“A singer at her absolute peak, Ms. Cook continues to deepen as a dramatic interpreter of Broadway showtunes, infusing them with a wistful, all-forgiving wisdom and, when the occasion demands, creating full-scale characters. It is all done in simple graceful strokes, without fuss or embellishment, Ms. Cook’s autumnal lyric soprano slices to the melodic heart of a song and extracts its lyrical juice into a powerful elixir of distilled memory and longing.”
Stephen Holden - The New York Times
April 2, 1999
“In whatever she sings, you sense a lifetime’s experience being addressed from a perspective that is still capable of wonder and a detemined innocence.”
Stephen Holden - The New York Times
September 17, 1999
“The chemistry of Barbara Cook’s voice – beautiful, aching and inflected with autumnal shades and rustlings – and Mr. Sondheim’s songs, which take a long view of life and death in the midst of furious and emotional turmoil, is quietly shattering.”
Stephen Holden - The New York Times
October 27, 1999
“Simply put, Cook’s command over her material is staggering.”
Robert Nesti - The Boston Herald
“She stands on an unadorned stage with just a piano player and a bassist for company. Her artistry makes London’s big musicals look like so much tissue paper. Theatre people tend to go weak at the knees over Barbara Cook, which can be off-putting to those who are among the uninitiated. But sometimes a little hero-worship is in order. I find writing about the American legend difficult, because I have exhausted all my superlatives over the years, yet each time she comes back she gets better. We will just have to start thinking of her in terms of a natural wonder, like a solar eclipse.”
Clive Davis - The Times (London)
“Barbara Cook defies time. She has it all – musicianship, of course, clarity, phrasing, a sure touch and feel for the mood of every lyric. She knows how to act a song, but she isn’t theatrical. It isn’t that she sings as well as someone half her age. Her secret is that she’s completely and unpretentiously artless. Ms. Cook has found the highest peeks of utter naturalness. The air isn’t rarefied, but very pure. This supreme ’artless art’ goes beyond all we know. Some legendary dancers have had it, very few actors. It simply and purely is. It’s why Ms. Cook is both timeless and miraculously ageless. And its why she can still deliver an Irving Berlin romantic ballad with the swoon of a first big love, and a late Sondheim love song with the heart of one who still longs for it to mend.”
John Heilpern - The New York Observer
“It’s Cook’s great good fortune, and of course ours, that she’s arrived at a point where nothing is outside her emotional range and yet almost nothing is outside her vocal range, either. Her rapport with an audience is just as all-embracing: By the end of this remarkable evening, songs, singer and audience seem to have fused.”
Charles Isherwood - Variety
“Does any singer articulate longing and desire more gorgeously than Barbara Cook? I doubt it. You watch Mostly Sondheim largely wreathed in smiles thanks to an ageless talent, her voice drenched in sun, for whom life’s sorrowful shadows are just a half-note away.”
Matt Wolf - Variety (reviewing Mostly Sondheim’s London opening)
“This great lady of American song held a wildly enthusastic audience spellbound for 90 minutes. The woman is a miracle of ageless effervescence. She possesses the voice of a 30 year-old, pure and clear as a mountain spring. Turned down soft, her vibrato can melt butter. Turned high, it soars so dazzingly it might shake the roof”
Christopher Potter - Ann Arbor News
“Barbara Cook brings something unexpected to everything she sings. When she does ’Lost In His Arms’ from Annie Get Your Gun, it is with a sense of astonishment. When she performs San Francisco, she makes every note glow. Cook’s voice is a natural wonder. What makes the voice special is not just its agility and sparkle but the earth-mother warmth that radiates through every note. Mostly Sondheim is about a great voice bringing great intelligence to great material. The Japanese designate certain artists Living National Treasures. If we had that category, Cook would certainly qualify.”
Howard Kissel - Dailly News
“I truly believe Barbara Cook could tackle the collected works of the Ramones and make them lush masterpieces of words and music.”
Ann Arbor News
“Barbara Cook has no place in the history of the postwar Broadway musical because she is that history. And for the last 25 years or so she has been singing the great American songbook with an emotional power and intelligence unrivalled by any other singer. She is that rarest of the rare, a literate singer for whom the words are as important, sometimes more important, than the music. When at the end of an all-too brief 80 minutes she sings, without any amplification, Sondheim’s ‘Anyone Can Whistle,’ it is one of the greatest moments I have experienced in any theatre anywhere in the world.”
Sheridan Morley - The Spectator
“Singing alone onstage for 90 minutes straight is tough for anyone. In the case of Barbara Cook, however, the feat itself is secondary to the joy that comes from sharing the company of a consummate professional, a gifted storyteller in song, a survivor of 50 years of American musical theater. The sell-out crowd fell under Cook’s spell almost at once. Her real artistry lies in the sincerity of her delivery, her grasp of a song’s emotional center, and her superb phrasing. Nobody can sell a song like Barbara Cook.”
Mickey Coalwell - The Kansas City Star
“When the curtain goes up on Barbara Cook’s show you know you’re in the presence of a most unusual legend. Throughout the whole evening, Cook’s ability to weld sound with sense remain astounding and few performers – whether classical or popular – have her ability to get to the heart of a song. She’s incomparable. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a ticket – but just go and hear her.”
Tim Ashley - The Guardian
“In a musically imperfect world, there is still perfection in the voice of Barbara Cook. For anyone eulogizing the historic scores of a long-lost era of Broadway greatness, not to worry. Somebody is still singing them with purity and passion. She is Barbara Cook, and she sings them for the angels to applaud.”
Rex Reed - The New York Observer
“The lady surely does make a luminous and glorious sound!”
Richard Dyer - The Boston Globe
“A few supreme artists show us, once the athletic brilliance of youth is over, the true grace that always underlay their prowess. The Barbara Cook experience has become one of bewildering complexity; pure music and also pure communication, innocence and also youth, inward reflectiveness and outward energy, brightness and darkness too. You hear a complex human being who can both take us inside her own emotions and can take joy in the world around her.”
Alastair Macaulay - The Financial Times
“A divinity in human guise. A force of musical nature. This is everywhere apparent – in her commitment to interpretive truth, her searching intelligence and certainly her joyous soprano, one of the most celebrated in Broadway history. Such magic is the stuff that creates legends and designates Cook as a national treasure.”
David C. Nichols - The Los Angeles Times
“An absolute master in full control of the abilities that have made her one of the concert world’s great treasures of the last 30 years. Her Broadway career may have begun more than 50 years ago, but she is still a master of pitch and expressiveness, capable of making the obscure and the well-worn sound fresh and welcoming.”
Phil Gallo - Daily Variety
“Barbara Cook sings Stephen Sondheim – and you listen with a sense of gratitude, humanity and even a touch of awe.”
Chip de Faa - New York Post
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