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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : McGovern Gives Musically Superb Show

March 21, 1994|DON HECKMAN

Maureen McGovern's performance at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Friday (where she appeared with the recently reviewed Joel Grey) may not have had Whitney Houston's contemporary stylishness or Barbra Streisand's legendary framing, but in terms of pure, gorgeously articulated, musically superb singing, it was as good as mainstream pop gets.

What raises McGovern above most other artists in her stylistic arena is her unique combination of a natural vocal ability, knowledgeable musicality and an amiable manner.

Her readings of "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye," for example, were equivalent to the cleaning away of accumulated dust and grime from medieval paintings--brilliant re-establishments of the bright colors of the original works.

On "A Little Jazz Bird" and "Mr. Paganini," she displayed her astounding four-octave range but never as a show-off device and always with precise musical accuracy.

Further expanding her stylistic presentation, she created a fanciful parody of Deanna Durbin singing "Tales From the Vienna Woods" and countered with a theatrical rendering of Comden, Green and Styne's "If" (from "Two on the Aisle"). It was a splendid demonstration of a world-class artist at the peak of her powers.

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