Friday, November 8, 2013

Yentl (soundtrack)

Today (November 8th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the soundtrack for Yentl. The romantic drama film, which opened in limited release on November 18th of 1983 and full release on January 6th of 1984, starred Barbra Streisand as a Jewish girl who dresses like a man in order to get an education in Talmudic Law after her father dies and eventually finds herself in the middle of relationship between a fellow student and his fiancée. Mandy Patinkin and Amy Irving play those last two characters..

The platinum selling soundtrack album hit number 29 in Sweden, number 26 in Germany, number 24 in Australia, number 21 in the UK, number 16 in Canada, number 9 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 7 in Austria, number 5 in the Netherlands, number 4 in Switzerland and number 2 in Spain. The music and lyrics were by Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman respectively.

Two of the tracks were nominated for an Academy Award (“Papa, Can You Hear Me?” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel”) for Best Original Song, but they lost out to “Flashdance…What a Feeling”. The music of the film did win the Academy Award for Best Adaptation Score though.

Side one begins with the questioning “Where Is It Written?” The orchestration starts out light but grows to a soaring level along with Streisand’s powerful vocals.

The very moving “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”, as a single, charted at number 26 on the US Adult Contemporary and number 14 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary charts. The somber strings mirror the solemn lyrical response to a parent’s death.

“This Is One of Those Moments” is a cross-road piece, going from a slower opening to a more rapidly moving second half.

On “No Wonder”, Streisand demonstrates her adept skill at delivering verbose vocal phrases with clarity and ease. The lyrics observe how a man has fallen for the perfect house wife type.

“The Way He Makes Me Feel”, released as a single with a more contemporary sound, charted at number 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 34 in Canada. In the film, Streisand sings this one to reveal her feelings for her classmate.

“No Wonder (Part Two)” includes snippets of the film’s dialogue from Irving and Streisand.

Side two opens with “Tomorrow Night”, a song that shows Yentl’s panic as she finds herself on the verge of her wedding night to another woman. She questions ending the entire charade, but that would mean also having to be away from the man she really loves.

Next up is another questioning number - “Will Someone Ever Look at Me That Way?”

“No Matter What Happens” is about accepting the consequences of revealing the truth.

“No Wonder (Reprise)” briefly revisits the reoccurring earlier themes.

“A Piece of the Sky” is the closing number from the film. That final note from Streisand is killer.

The album closes with two studio versions of earlier tracks - “The Way He Makes Me Feel” and “No Matter What Happens”. As mentioned earlier, these have a more contemporary sound to them.

I have never seen Yentl before, but after listening to the entire soundtrack I am curious to do so. The music really made a compelling case for the complex storyline. Of course, a lot of that is due to Streisand’s stellar singing that is married to a lovely musical score.

For more of my Barbra Streisand reviews, look below:

- For 1979’s soundtrack to The Main Event, click here.

- For 1980’s Guilty, click here.

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