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Bryn Terfel - Something Wonderful (Bryn Terfel sings Rodgers & Hammerstein)
Bryn Terfel, English Northern Philharmonia, Paul Daniel
Bryn Terfel - Something Wonderful (Bryn Terfel sings Rodgers & Hammerstein)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1

In the opening song of "Something Wonderful," Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel sings, "All the sounds of the Earth are like music." They most definitely are when Terfel surrounds them with his resonant baritone. Every phras...  more »


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In the opening song of "Something Wonderful," Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel sings, "All the sounds of the Earth are like music." They most definitely are when Terfel surrounds them with his resonant baritone. Every phrase of Rodgers and Hammerstein's music is imbued with uncommon sensitivity, impeccable phrasing, and dazzling beauty. Terfel's rich and meaty voice shares a plate with delicate pianissimos, unabashed sentimentality, and swaggering forthrightness. He successfully tackles songs originally written for women. In "It Might as Well Be Spring," he transforms dippy into dapper. And he turns "Bali Hai" into a foreboding, demanding, and seductive call; the listener must helplessly succumb to the world of his sensitive manliness. His interpretations of the old standards--"If I Loved You," "Soliloquy," "This Nearly Was Mine," "Some Enchanted Evening"--are stellar. Despite the temporary lulls caused by the second-class songs from "Allegro," Terfel does a first-class job of bringing them to life. Undoubtedly one of the best crossover records of all time. --Barbara Eisner Bayer

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CD Reviews

Superb matchmaking in Terfel's R&H recital
Yi-Peng | Singapore | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You might think that it is a very superflous mismatch for an opera singer to try his vocal cords on the Broadway songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein. However, in this R&H offering by Bryn Terfel, he proves that it is a perfect match between singer and repertoire for a classical crossover record of this pedigree. Terfel communicates the essence of each of the 20 songs to the listener, and allows them to sound fresh and new. And it helps that he has been a R&H fan for many years with the music already close to his heart. He is given superb backing from the well-conducted Opera North forces an warm, natural recording.

From the first phrase of Terfel's uplifting opening version of "Oh, what a beautiful morning" from Oklahoma!, we listeners intuitively know that this is not going to be your superflous run-of-the-mill classical crossover offering of R&H songs. Terfel uses his big voice to great effect in Billy Bigelow's two songs from Carousel, "If I loved you" and the pivotal "Soliloquy" that builds up to a devastating climax. When he does this for Emile's two big solos in South Pacific, "Some Enchanted Evening" and "This Nearly Was Mine," he also makes them sound fresh and intuitively conveys their essence. He also thrills us even when his voice is soft and tender, such as on Lietunant Cable's "Younger than Springtime" and especially on Captain von Trapp's "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music.

Besides the obvious highlights in this R&H offering, Terfel unearths some new delights. He does this by trying his vocal cords on songs that were originally intended for women, most notably in Nettie's two big numbers in Carousel, "June is busting out all over" and "You'll never walk alone", which he pulls off convincingly in a straight-laced and serious manner without sounding cliched. (In the booklet, "You'll never walk alone" was stated as being sung by the Chorus, but then in the show, it is sung by Nettie.) He is also wistful on "It might as well be Spring" from State Fair, and philosophical on Lady Thiang's "Something Wondreful" from The King and I. He also evokes a dreamlike quality on Bloody Mary's "Bali Ha'i" in South Pacific. The other unusual thing that Terfel does is include some unknown songs and treat them ravishingly. Four of them are from Allegro, highlighted by a charming "So Far," a reflective "A Fellow needs a girl" and a powerful "Come Home", and he also sings "No Other Love" from Me and Juliet as ravishingly as "I Have Dreamed."

If I have any quibbles, there are only two minor ones. Terfel's R&H offering runs for 74 minutes, and still has six minutes of empty space on a CD. I'm sure that Terfel could have given thought to the Mother Abbess's "Climb Every Mountain" from The Sound of Music, which I consider a more universal and less-cliched song than "You'll never walk alone" from Carousel. It would have suited his full-throated, big-voiced characteristic very well. Also, this offering of R&H seems to be lopsided to emphasise more of the first part of R&H. Sixteen tracks cover R&H from Oklahoma to South Pacific, with four tracks that cover their second half from The King and I to The Sound of Music. As such I would have liked to hear him sing a more balanced repertoire of R&H songs with equal emphasis to both halves of their collaboration. Perhaps he might record a Volume 2 with songs from the latter part of their collaboration in the near future. But with 74 delightful minutes of Terfel's R&H offering, how could anybody complain about the quality of this recital, especially with a lavish booklet complete with copious notes by R&H expert Ethan Mordden and full lyrics.

Overall, though, I'm very sure that this R&H offering is both a highlight of Terfel's discography, and can ably recommended with his recording of Schubert songs to anybody who wants to get to know his work well. It can also be recommended to Rodgers & Hammerstein fans old and new.

By the way, I also recommend the Rodgers & Hammerstein Songbook for Orchestra, with another superlative Telarc offering by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Erich Kunzel. This recital is just as outstanding as Terfel's R&H offering. And, there is a wealth of cast recordings that new R&H fans will want to snap up, so this Terfel disc will be an ideal stepping-stone for them."
Adoration and Total Agreement
R. Ley | Aptos, CA USA | 02/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having heard him sing some opera and tear my heart out singing "herr, lehre doch mich" in the Brahms' Requiem, and having heard him sing this on the PBS special, I bought it and was NOT disappointed. I do feel that he oversings on some songs, that he has not yet quite developed a smooth, emotional middle volume on some songs. To my ear this happens when a singer just sings the song and really doesn't feel it completely. As a totality this CD is extraordinary and my nitpicking should be overlooked and CERTAINLY not be a reason to avoid this one. It's a gem. If you even sorta' like musicals, you'll LOVE this disc.Anyone know why more people don't buy these discs? Ever try and find it in a retail music store? Good luck!I am in complete agreement with the other reviewers. I can't think of anyone else singing these songs, and can't wait for more from this personable, down-to-earth human being. I mean, who else would, as he did, at the conclusion of his vocal recital, lead the audience in singing "The Hippopotamus Song"? Not the three tenors!"
Incredible interpretations of these wonderful songs
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 07/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was given this disk by a friend. I took it politely but didn't have big hopes. As others have commented, it is hard to think of fine opera and lieder singers who can also do show tunes or pop (Eileen Farrel is an exception that comes to mind).Well, when I listened to this disk it blew me away. I gathered my children around so they could hear these great songs done just right. I mean he even pulls off "You'll Never Walk Alone" without being cliche! It is a great song and he does it better than I have ever heard it done. Too many singers just go for the bathos. Terfel sings it seriously and uses the chorus and orchestra so nicely.What a great gift this was!"