Pretty but dull
M. Tietjen | Syracuse, NY, USA | 01/19/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This album contains a lot of beautiful music. And a lot of boring music, too. But since not all of the singers are the same quality, let me briefly give an overview of some of their performances. I've never thought Dawn Upshaw was a very good classical singer. Her voice gets a little whiny sometimes and her vowels are abominably American. Sylvia McNair has a lovely voice, and the Rachmaninov is good, but I've heard better (Renee Fleming and Anna Moffo come to mind), and she makes the piece even longer than usual by taking the two repeats. The second of her pieces has none of the joy that it should have and is very dull, if technically good. Judith Blegen, Elly Ameling, and Arleen Auger are average sopranos giving pretty but emotionless readings of their songs and arias. Barbara Hendricks RACES through "Ach ich fuhls" like it was Lakme's Bell Song, and sounds HORRIBLE. Kathleen Battle is good but Mahler seems out of place here, but not as out of place as Gilbert and Sullivan or Rogers and Hammerstein. In fact, what is Frederica Von Stade doing on this album of divine "sopranos" anyway? She has a lovely mezzo-soprano voice. Diana Soviero seems a bit out of place too, with her not-too-pretty but more powerful and interesting voice.All in all, if you can get past the blandness of the performances, the album is pretty. But I like my sopranos to be made of much sterner stuff than these."
Great Value, Some Recordings Any Collector Would Want
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good CD, but a better value for only $10. The weakest singers are definitely mezzo Frederica von Stade (showtune) and Barbara Hendricks (beyond light lyric). Battle's aria from Mahler's 2nd is exceptionally out of place. The CD opens brightly with Dawn Upshaw's version of "On mighty wings" from Haydn's 'The Creation.' It's a strong, colorful piece that takes a bit of a beating from her nasality. Sylvia McNair is stupendous, possibly even surpassing Anna Moffo (the authoritative Rachmaninof Vocalise). Elly Ameling is in her usual good form with this Faure art song. McNair shines even more on "Rejoice Greatly" from Haendel's "Messiah." This may be the best version I've ever heard and possibly surpass Kathleen Battle's, considered one of the better of all time. The Laudamus Te is the crown jewel of the entire CD, it's from Vivaldi's Magnificat. This is truly well-sung by Dawn Upshaw and Judith Blegen, this is the reason you should buy the CD and go out and purchase the Shaw CD in its entirety. Marie McLaughlin sounds a bit weak on her aria from "The Mikado." To be honest, albeit she's English, she's a much better lyric soprano for Mozart, Haydn, Strauss not English through-composed and Operetta."
Don't analyse, listen
Archimedes | 11/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My scariest nightmare is that of some one breaking into my house and stealing this CD while I am at work.The selection of excerpts is absolutely pleasing.Of course I am carried away saying this is the most beautiful thing I know. If you belong to those who don't let anything carry them away, don't buy this CD."