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John Fleming's CD picks: Gypsy, Minnesota Orchestra, Simone Dinnerstein, Kate McGarry


Album: Gypsy (Time Life)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Gypsy is the perfect Broadway score — the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers voted it the best ever — and here's a cast with three Tony winners: Patti LuPone as Rose, Laura Benanti as Louise and Boyd Gaines as Herbie.

Why we like it: Though Gypsy is nominally about the life and times of burlesque stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, the real star of the show is her mother, and LuPone puts her stamp on the quintessential 11 o'clock number, Rose's Turn. The CD is filled out with songs that were cut from the original production.

Reminds us of: Other Roses on CD played by Ethel Merman, Tyne Daley and Bette Midler

Download these: Overture, Some People, Small World and Together Wherever We Go

Grade: A

Minnesota Orchestra

Album: Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 and 7 (Bis)

In stores: Now

Why we care: This is the final disc in a five-disc Beethoven cycle by the Minnesota Orchestra under music director Osmo Vanska. I'm listening to it because it provides a good benchmark for a modern performance of the Seventh Symphony, which will be played by the Florida Orchestra in its season-opening program.

Why we like it: The rhythmic vitality of the Seventh is unleashed in sleek, streamlined sound that makes Beethoven feel utterly up to date. The pairing with the Second Symphony is sublime.

Reminds us of: Other Beethoven Sevens on CD conducted by George Szell, Carlos Kleiber and David Zinman

Download this: Symphony No. 7

Grade: A

Simone Dinnerstein

Album: The Berlin Concert (Telarc)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Dinnerstein, a 35-year-old pianist from Brooklyn, made a splash last year with her album of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Now she has released a live recording of a recital she gave in November 2007 at the Philharmonie in Berlin of Beethoven's final piano sonata, Bach's French Suite No. 5 and Philip Lasser's Twelve Variations on a Chorale of Bach.

Why we like it: Dinnerstein has an assured touch in Bach, and she is wonderfully nimble in Beethoven, but her consummate performance of the wide-ranging variations by Lasser, who teaches at the Juilliard School, is the highlight.

Reminds us of: Glenn Gould

Download this: Twelve Variations on a Chorale of Bach

Grade: B+

Kate McGarry

Album: If Less Is More . . . Nothing Is Everything (Palmetto)

In stores: Now

Why we care: McGarry is the rare jazz singer who can bring off fresh, valid interpretations of rock classics such as The Times They Are A-Changin' or even the less than classic Just What I Needed by the Cars. Her band is terrific, with Gary Versace on organ making a particularly funky contribution.

Why we like it: McGarry's jazz bona fides are in good order with Let's Face the Music and Dance and You're My Thrill. Her lilting soprano is on lovely display in Man of God, which she wrote. And I love the joyous interplay among McGarry and singers Jo Lawry and Peter Eldridge on Crosby, Stills & Nash's You Don't Have To Cry.

Reminds us of: Betty Carter, Cassandra Wilson, Rickie Lee Jones

Download these: The Times They Are A-Changin' and You Don't Have to Cry

Grade: B+

John Fleming's CD picks: Gypsy, Minnesota Orchestra, Simone Dinnerstein, Kate McGarry 10/04/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 4, 2008 4:30am]
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