Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Ultimate Secret Garden
Import double disc Gold series from Universal Music presents vast riches from the Universal vaults. The Gold Disc is remastered and housed in a standard jewel case with a slipcase. Includes complete career overview, extens... more »
Import double disc Gold series from Universal Music presents vast riches from the Universal vaults. The Gold Disc is remastered and housed in a standard jewel case with a slipcase. Includes complete career overview, extensive selections drawn from the most important years with key hits, extensive liner notes, credits, and period photos. 30 tracks in all including 'Songs For A Secret Garden', 'Nocturne', 'You Raise Me Up' & Heartstrings'. 2005.
Good compilation for introduction
Yong J | 03/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This certainly isn't the "Ultimate" (neither best nor complete compilation of) Secret Garden, but it contains melodies that defined the Secret Garden. This is a good introduction to Secret Garden. Unlike the DreamCatcher, this album actually contains three unique tracks that you won't be able to find elsewhere - Swan (track #4), Hymn To Hope (track #19), Song From A Secret Garden (track #20). All three of those tracks are sung by a Korean soprano, and her voice is simply amazing. The applauses on the 2nd CD are annoying though."
Calming soothing music
Richard Cantor | East Coast, USA | 02/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I would have rated this CD with 5 stars instead of 4 if the sound quality was clearer on the CD product I received. The release I obtained was from a pressing from Universal Music (2004, pressed in Malaysia). The sound quality on the vocal and the instruments sounds like it is 85% clear. At times, it is very hard to understand the words being sung (when in English).
As I listened to the music on this collection of "best of", I thought of similarity of styles to classical composers like Massenet and Debussy. This CD, I think would appeal most to listeners who like the romantic classical period and/or soothing "new age" music of a Celtic and classical influence.
Although I could not understand the lyrics to the two songs sung in Korean, the performer's voice was very pleasing (reminding me of a vocal range of something like an alto soprano - one reviewer commented that her voice was that of a mezzo) with what sounded like perfect pitch. While her voice isn't that expressive, she nails each note perfectly and gives it a pleasing tone complimenting the background instrumentation. (Contrast her steady tone to the vocal on "You Raise Me Up," whose emotional expression at times seems to veer off from actually singing - I love that song, so I was able to overlook the substandard nature of the vocal rendition.)
Speaking of instrumentation, the sound of instruments on this pressing sounded somewhat more muted than I am used to hearing. I wonder if purchasers of more recent pressings have noticed a sound quality that is somewhat muted or lacking crystal clear quality.
And getting back to the lyrics being sung in Korean ... I listened as a native English speaking person. To my taste, the sound of the romance languages, such as French and Italian, and even Mandarin sound more pleasing to the ear, having a more pleasing aesthetic to this western ear, than Korean. Each language has a certain aesthetic that fits well into certain genres. I didn't find the use of the Korean language to sing in served the sentiment of the song as much as I had hoped. But if I understood Korean and/or had grown up in an environment of that language, my views would most likely be different. (romance languages and even Mandarin strike me as having more "vowel" sounds than the harsher consonant sounds I was hearing from the Korean used in the singing of two songs)
I did enjoy the lyrics of the other songs sung in English and found they matched the romantic and idealistic spirit of the songs.
Regarding the sequence of the selections - there are many many songs in this two disc CD collection, and it seems that there is a greater number of songs that are slower in nature following each other than the greater variation of slow and fast found on other CD's. There is some decent alternation between instrumental only and vocal selections.
What I found to be smart was the placement of the two most Celtic influenced songs, "The Rap," and "Moving," positioned after each other. That placement helps to keep the more upbeat mood in place.
Another smart positioning involves the final two songs on the second CD, "Dreamcatcher," and "Dawn of a New Century." Both involve some spoken narrative. The final selection is such an upbeat number it is incomprehensible to think of it being in any other position other than the final one. Opening up selection 1 on the first CD is "Song from a Secret Garden," an appropriate tribute to the name of their first CD.
In reading the various posts, I was concerned that the second CD would be unpleasant given the "live" recording which supposedly involved lighter orchestration, different intonation at times from that used in studio recordings, and the intrusive nature of applause.
I will address these three issues - at first, the inclusion of the applause was offsetting to my ear, but then I noticed that it was consistently used at the beginning and ending of each song for no more than one second (very fast fade in and fade out) to remind the listener of the "live in concert" nature of the selection/performance. Second, I found the orchestration adequate - while not as full as the studio sound, I was appreciative of what sounded to me like a more than full sound, including overdubbing multitracking of vocals and other instrumentation. (While "Dawn of a New Century" isn't played with the full blown orchestration as found on the studio version, it does include what sounded to me like overdubbing and multi-tracking of vocals and inclusion of many other instruments not played physcially by onstage musicians. If I had not heard the studio version of this song, I would have been blown away by this version. As the finale, the sound engineer let the applause last for a second or two longer than that heard after other songs.)
And last, as far as intonation goes, there is a different treatment given at times by musicians to the musical phrasing. I noticed at times a longer hesitation, but didn't find it disconcerting, but rather an expression of the musician attending to the moment and adding personal expression.
(As an edited comment here, on rereading some reviews of this CD, I read that the second CD is taken from the audio of the DVD of SG's live performance featuring a choral group. Perhaps some of what sounded like overdubbing and/or multitracking of voices is, in fact, the sound of the choral voices.)
The more than adequate sound of performances heard on the second CD inspires me to want to see SG perform as featured on their "A Night With Secret Garden" DVD. I can't imagine how exhilirating it must have been to have been in the audience listening and watching them perform various songs, such as "Sona," and "Dawn of a New Century."
The benefits of a "best of" collection, is that each song is memorable. Two songs that are favorites of mine not found on this CD are "Illumination" (from "White Stones") and "Raise Your Voices" (from "EarthSongs"). Those are the only two cuts that I can think of that are not featured in this collection that I really miss.
What surprised me was that when I heard my two favorite pieces, "Adagio," and "Passacaglia," they didn't strike me in the same way as they do on the other CD's they are featured on. I figured out why - they are surrounded by near equally beautiful pieces! This CD isn't called a "best of" collection by accident! One beautiful piece flows into another gorgeous piece.
As has been said before, the sound of Secret Garden is something you either love or find boring. I have to be in the mood for this genre to fully appreciate it, given its more contemplative and quiet nature. For listeners who like this genre of music, this collection is memorable."