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Katherine Jenkins – Première
1. Questo è per te (Ralph Lovland arr. Morgan Pochin) [3:38]
2. The Ash Grove (Trad. Arr.Pochin/Robbins) [3:09]
3. Ave Maria (Caccini arr. Pochin/Jenkins) [3:00]
4. Baïlèro (Trad. Arr. Pochin) [2:50]
5. The Lord is my Shepherd (Rutter) [4:22]
6. Ar Lan y Môr (Trad. Arr. Pochin/Robbins) [2:29]
7. Sweetest Love (J.S. Bach arr. Pochin) [3:57]
8. Habanera (Bizet arr. Pochin) [2:47]
9. Cymru fach (David Richards/H.E.Lewis, arr. Pochin) [3:54]
10. Caro mio ben (Giordano arr. Pochin) [2:14]
11. Lascia ch’io pange (Handel arr. Pochin/Jenkins) [3:14]
12. Miserere (Allegri, arr. Pochin) [3.53]
13. Absence (Satie arr. Pochin) [2:59]
14. Cwm Rhondda (John Hughes arr. Pochin) [2:47]
Catherine Jenkins (voice)
The Arcadian Singers and Ensemble/James Morgan
Recorded at Cavalier, Four Fives Studios, Gateway and Dreamhouse Studios
UCJ 986 606-4 [45:44]

 

This little rag-bag of musical trifles is brought to us courtesy the latest Welsh singing sensation – from the nation that brought us Aled and Bryn. Please give a warm hand to Katherine Jenkins, the female answer to Russell Watson – though chwarae teg she’s not quite that bad. But the mystery is how somebody with such a staggeringly modest voice (to put it politely) finds themselves making a recording like this at all. Then, of course, you see the photos and things become a little clearer. Blonde Katherine has the sort of pretty girl-next-door looks that would look marvellous, say, behind the bar in the Rovers Return [English TV soap reference].

Unfortunately, the sensual appeal doesn’t get into her singing; I’ve never heard a more sexless version of the Carmen Habanera, complete with short-breathed phrasing and register problems. She manages OK in simple numbers like the Ash Grove, but my heart sank when I saw the Allegri Miserere listed – how was she going to manage the soaring phrases and the high Cs? Worry not – Morgan Pochin, responsible for all the arrangements, either alone or with other co-conspirators, has transposed it down a tone to Bb minor, and given the high phrases to the backing choir, while our Katherine inhabits less stratospheric regions! Phew.

Pochin’s arrangements are slick enough, but often become unintentionally humorous, such as when the full chorus suddenly bursts into the intimate little love song on track 1, or the all-purpose Celtic (i.e vaguely Irish) piping that destroys that otherwise rather lovely Welsh folk-song Ar lan y môr.

The most enjoyable tracks on the disc are, firstly, track 5 from the Rutter Requiem, with expressive oboe playing from Emily Pailthorpe, and a mildly successful version of Satie’s Gymnopédie no.1 for voice and solo harp, with French words. On the other hand, that piece of sub-Puccinian flummery Cymru Fach (Little Wales – aaah!) is simply cringe-worthy, as is the final track, Cwm Rhondda, where Katherine displays her rugby credentials – ‘Wales victorious’ goes the inspired additional text, ‘Wales victorious! Onward to the victory!’ I think we can guarantee that we’ll hear this at least once during the Six Nations rugby tournament (if it hasn’t happened already while I wasn’t paying attention).

The accompanying booklet tells us nothing about Katherine Jenkins at all, though in her gushing tributes, our girl manages to thank a good proportion of the population of Wales – I just hope she never wins an Oscar. She has a voice that, if allowed to develop properly - though it will never have anything out of the ordinary about it - might be an attractive instrument in five or six years’ time. Sadly, issues like this suggest that will never happen.

Twm Siôn Cati

http://www.katherinejenkins.co.uk/

 


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