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Top Picks: 'Deathly Hallows' Ultimate Edition, Barbra Streisand's unreleased recordings, and more

Ken Burns returns with 'The Dust Bowl,' National Geographic's Andrew Evans documents his travels on Twitter, and more top picks.

By Staff / November 2, 2012

Release Me by Barbra Streisand

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One of pop music's truly magnificent voices is back ... in time. Release Me is Barbra Streisand's collection of previously unreleased recordings that have been hibernating in the vaults for decades. Three of the best are the oldest – "Willow Weep for Me" (1967), Jimmy Webb's heartbreaking "Didn't We" (1970), and a lovely, understated reading of Randy Newman's masterpiece "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" (1971). Fans probably don't need another reminder of Babs's transcendent prime, but this new treasure-trove is a welcome surprise.

Burns is back

Ken Burns, that extraordinary chronicler of America's story, offers another installment of the country's great narrative with The Dust Bowl. This four-hour, two-part series on PBS examines the Depression-era heartland through years of the most horrific, man-made environmental disaster the United States has known. As a result of plowing up millions of acres of grassy meadowland, eons worth of a delicately balanced ecosystem turned into years of airborne soil that ravaged Midwestern states with unimaginable dust storms. The political and geographical landscape was forever altered. Airs Nov. 18 and 19.

Potter collectible

Start your holiday list with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2: Ultimate Edition. Available Nov. 13, this new packaging of the final two chapters of the "Harry Potter" saga arrives as a DVD/Blu-ray/UltraViolet set with multiple extras such as the final installment of the "Creating the World of Harry Potter" documentary, collectible character cards, a behind-the-scenes photo book, and lenticular cards.

Modern takes

Fans of contemporary classical music in the Los Angeles area have watched as a local gem – Jacaranda – has evolved into the must-see destination for engaging, challenging, and provocative 20th- and 21st-century music. From John Cage to Esa-Pekka Salonen to Steve Reich and other modern masters, this collective of top-flight local performers and producers seeks to show what it calls "music at the edge." For those outside L.A., jacarandamusic.org offers unusual concert notes, programs, video clips, and event listings from around the world.

Travel tweets

Andrew Evans may have the best job on the planet. As National Geographic's digital nomad, he writes, photographs, and films his way around the world. Mr. Evans documents his globe-trotting with a Twitter feed. While some travel writers come off as braggarts, his casual, fun, and photo-heavy posts make him seem like a friend sharing stories. Follow him at twitter.com/WheresAndrew.

midwifery

The first season of Call the Midwife arrives Nov. 6 on DVD. The PBS series follows the triumphs and heartaches of midwives in 1950s industrial East London. A young nurse-midwife named Jenny Lee leaves a sheltered upbringing to serve families in London's poorest neighborhood. Thoughtful directing, beautiful cinematography, a strong cast, and period details connect viewers seamlessly with the story line of this postwar drama.

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