MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

Kiri Sings Berlin, Gershwin, Kern
Irving BERLIN (1888-1989)
15 Songs:
Let's face the music and dance [2:06]
I got the sun in the morning [3:14]
How deep is the ocean? [2:40]
What'll I do [3:45]
Blue skies [2:38]
It's a lovely day today [3:09]
They say it's wonderful [2:39]
Say it isn't so [3:25]
Cheek to cheek [3:25]
Isn't this a lovely day [3:02]
Always [4:27]
The song is ended [3:08]
I've got my love to keep me warm [2:49]
It only happens when I dance with you [2:10]
Easter Parade [3:07]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
5 Songs*:
I got rhythm+ [3:33]
Love walked in [3:08]
Someone to watch over me [2:41]
Summertime^ [2:41]
By Strauss [2:47]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945)
3 Songs#:
The folks who live on the hill [4:05]
Smoke gets in your eyes [2:53]
The last time I saw Paris [3:37]
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano)
+The Foursome: George Dvorsky, Mervin Foard, Cris Groenendaal, Ron Raines
^The New York Choral Artists
Abbey Road Ensemble, #London Sinfonietta/Jonathan Tunick
*New Princess Theater Orchestra/John McGlinn
rec. Abbey Road Studio 2, October-November 1996, #July 1991; *RCA Studios, New York, July 1986
EMI CLASSICS 2357302 [71:25] 


Experience Classicsonline

The present reissue, culled from three separate programs, demonstrates that it is possible for an opera singer successfully to cross over into music-theatre repertoire. It also illustrates a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Given Te Kanawa's rise to prominence and popularity after her command appearance as soloist for the wedding of Prince Charles, the ensuing backlash was more or less inevitable, with her crossover albums coming in for particular scorn among would-be cognoscenti. Still, "traditional" Broadway and standards always suited her: an early recital album from New Zealand - issued Stateside on a Westminster Gold LP - included songs from West Side Story alongside the opera and operetta chestnuts. 

The five Gershwin tracks show what Te Kanawa could do, in the right vocal shape. Under the guidance of John McGlinn - Broadway's version of a period-practice specialist - she shows a wonderful feeling for the sense and style of the songs, injecting some breathiness into the zippy chorus of I got rhythm, adopting a slithery manner and attack in Summertime, a jazz-inflected opera aria. And she does this without sacrificing vocal quality, maintaining a dark, full tone and an even legato. The operatic devices don't always quite work: in I got rhythm, for example, Te Kanawa's long-held notes over the male quartet are too heady to carry the requisite excitement. But it doesn't hurt to be able to cap Summertime with a zingy sustained top A - the final float of Love walked in, by comparison, is tight - or to realize the affectionate parody of By Strauss with a round, soaring sound. Incidentally, it's good to hear these pieces presented in presumably authentic full orchestral garb, including the longer operatic introduction to Summertime. 

The three Jerome Kern numbers, recorded five years later, show slight vocal wear, but the performances are convincing. Te Kanawa musters a surprisingly tough mixture in the low range for her sentimental but affecting voicing of The folks who live on the hill. The tone is warm and enveloping in Smoke gets in your eyes; the legato carries the words easily and simply in The last time I saw Paris. 

By 1996, when Te Kanawa recorded the Irving Berlin numbers, Te Kanawa is making do with diminished vocal resources. The soprano mostly rides along the upper side of her voice, almost never releasing her full sound. This seems like a useful setup for text projection, but the edginess and lack of depth in the voice become wearying over the course of fifteen songs - the little-girl sound in Cheek to cheek is especially annoying. 

Then, too, what sounded in the earlier recordings like stylistic obeisances have frozen into full-fledged mannerisms. Te Kanawa will sometimes delay the sounding of the vowel in a word or syllable - as distinct from her actual back-phrasing, which is fine - to no clear purpose. The indiscriminate admixture of breath into the tone - in mid-phrase, as well as on attacks - seems designed to hide the weak patch in the singer's lower midrange. In Isn't this a lovely day, once past a squeaky start, Te Kanawa "warbles," singing on a preponderance of mouth resonance, without sufficient support - which proves no more effective here than in her operatic roles. 

The problems notwithstanding, there are lovely moments in these numbers - those moments that call for "real" singing. In Let's face the music and dance, the octave rise and full-bodied "high" phrase at the end of each refrain is effective. Te Kanawa, singing out straightforwardly in the verse of They say it's wonderful, draws the listener into the song. In Easter Parade, she leans nicely on the note connecting the verse and the chorus, providing uplift. The other songs needed more of that directness: in Say it isn't so, the breathiness undercuts the sultriness; in Always, the soprano keeps threatening to sing out but never quite does so, producing nothing but frustration. 

Jonathan Tunick's arrangements are in no way "authentic," but they're imaginative, sometimes helpfully so: the cabaret-ish setting of I got the sun in the morning, with its walking bass, plays to his soloist's laid-back strengths - Te Kanawa isn't a stage Annie Oakley by a long shot. Brass interjections have a welcome big-band impact and verve. Broadway mavens will start at the interlude of it only happens when I dance with you, which threatens to veer into Jerry Herman's Mame! 

I respect much of Te Kanawa's recorded work, both operatic and crossover. The avid collector, however, would be better advised to hunt down the full Kiri Sings Gershwin program with McGlinn. If you do buy this one, dip into the Berlin selections, rather than listening to them straight through. 

Stephen Francis Vasta



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.