Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Charlotte CHURCH Various songs and  arias  SONY SK89003

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I will deal with the items on this CD first.

The so-called Ford Global Anthem Just Way Hello by Danny Beckerman is a ghastly song.... unoriginal, and often sounding like Just The Way We Were, slushy, cheap, trite, banal and nauseating. It is akin to a poorly constructed pop song trying to be important. The final vocal reiterations on two notes and a clattering percussion part is really quite awful and embarrassingly so.

La Pastorella from Soirees Musicales by Rossini needs an excellent technique. Charlotte's voice is truly lovely but her tone is unequal. Her middle range notes are disappointing... .or is this a recording flaw? Yet her high notes are very exciting. But, sadly, she has already developed that awful habit of prima donnas the slur, glissando or swoop from high notes. This portamento is ugly, whoever does it.

Offenbach's Barcarolle is somewhat under-sung but, at times, is desperately beautiful.

When we come to the two operatic arias by Puccini and Handel the depth and maturity is sadly lacking particularly in the florid aria from Rinaldo. Of course, one does not expect maturity from a winsome, delightful thirteen year old and, in fact, we are glad that she is singing this material rather than trash alla Robbie Williams or Elton John.

But these arias show up where the voice's register changes. This is noticeable and is one example of lack of technique. She also clips short some of her notes.

The great Welsh hymn, Cwm Rhondda, and the march Men of Harlech are very evocative and yet another reminder that we Welsh have the finest voices (!). It is in this direct style that Charlotte excels.

But the problems are there. The arrangements, which, of course, are not Charlotte's, are naff with the exception of Sir Charles Mackerras's version of Dvorak's sumptuous Songs My Mother Taught Me. And the conducting and subsequent performances are very poor at times. For example, The Holy City suffers from some absurd changes of tempo including the ridiculous speeding-up of the last line of the verses. Some of the orchestration is so bad that it recalls Elgar. Martini's Plaisir d'amour has a very heavy orchestral bass and some curious changes of tempo and hence both its simplicity and appeal is lost. Gershwin's Summertime is a showpiece and, sung well, is marvellously evocative as Judith Buckle has shown us. But Charlotte's first entry is uncertain and, again, the orchestra is too heavy and this is a pity for Charlotte has the measure of this wonderful song.

It is in the folk songs that Charlotte shows her best interpretations. The tempo for the Mozart aria is a shade too fast and, as a consequence, It sounds cheap and, again, the bass is too heavy.

I could comment on the other items but I would be repeating myself. It is difficult to review this disc. I feel Charlotte is being pushed, processed and packaged. Her advisors' choice of material is not always the best and the arrangements are embarrassing.

She has received too much unhealthy hype. That she has appeared before the Queen and Bill Clinton tells us nothing about her talent. Linda and I had Oat Krunchies for breakfast and have met Gregory Peck.... so what?

Charlotte has a splendid voice and we should be thankful that she is not singing rubbish ..... well, she does, occasionally. But I fear for her in that she may become a type of 'pop star', a teenage personality, and be exploited and, perhaps burn out and become a psychological wreck as did the sadly lamented Jacqueline du Pré. 1 say this graciously and courteously.

She should pursue songs which suit her voice, range and stage of maturity and sing without the excesses of style and tempo and in different arrangements and, recording engineers, cut the bass.

I will refrain from 'awarding stars' as to the recording and performances.

I wish Charlotte well but she needs better guidance and to work with people who are more professional and musical with a sure classical tradition.

Some people will ignore all of this and say that this CD has sold well and thereby imply its perfection.


David Wright


David Wright

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