‘Cross-over’ albums are generally frowned upon. Those that follow
classical artists cringe at the efforts of their idols to ‘dumb-down’
their art for commercial purposes. Those that sit on the other
side of the fence reject the patronising efforts of well paid
star artists to ‘formalise’ their repertoire. Someone really should
have drawn the line nearly 25 years ago when Bernstein recorded
his tragically miscast West Side Story with Carreras and
There is certainly
something about Ian Bostridge that suggests an affinity with
Noel Coward. That image of a fey, young Englishman, excellent
with words, gives us some hope. But the reality is somewhat
different. Having seen this particular artist in concert performing
Schubert, I have to confess to finding him aloof, overly formal
and most definitely unsuitable for repertoire such as that represented
on this disc.
One example will
suffice. In ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ Bostridge sounds so ill
at ease with the word ‘jazz’ that you seriously begin to consider
whether he actually knows anything about that particular genre.
Plus sides? Well
it is certainly good to hear this neglected repertoire sung
with such a fine voice. Jeffrey Tate makes a sadly rare appearance
as accompanist and does a lovely job.
was a project doomed from the start. We really need to cease
believing that the ‘classical’ industry can ‘improve’ musical
theatre numbers by virtue of fine voices. It didn’t work with
that West Side Story album and it certainly doesn’t work
here. There is musical theatre repertoire out there that would
sit well with Bostridge; why doesn’t someone record him in the
music of Ivor Novello? Surely that is a more suitable and more
neglected body of work.
are a matter of personal taste, of course, and those wanting
a second opinion might do well to refer to Ian Lace’s excellent
of the original issue.
Owen E Walton