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Kiri sings Karl – songs of mystery and enchantment - composed and conducted by Karl Jenkins
Carlos GUASTAVINO (1912–2000)
Jardins Antiguo [2:48];
Ariel RAMIREZ (b. 1921)
Kyrie (from Misa Criolla) [3:31];
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845–1924)
Le Secret, Op. 23 No. 3 [2:48];
Karl JENKINS (b. 1944)
Antema Africana [3:50];
Alberto GINASTERA (1916–1983)
Cancion al Arbol del olvido (from Dos Canciones Argentinas, Op. 3) [3:33];
Karl JENKINS
Y Cyfrinwyr (The Mystics) [7:54];
Carlos GUASTAVINO
Flores Argentinas: Cortadera, Plumerito [2:07]; El clavel del aire blanco [2:56]; ¡Que Linda la madreselva! [1:36]; Ay, aljaba flor de chilco [2:39];
Karl JENKINS
In Paradisum [5:25];
Carlos GUASTAVINO
La Rosa el Sauce [3:49];
Karl JENKINS
Capriccio D’Amore [3:55];
Allegrettango (after Beethoven) [5:13];
Mazurka (after Chopin) [4:25],
Paya Paya [3:47];
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano)
The Adiemus Singers
London Symphony Orchestra/Karl Jenkins
rec. The Adiemus singers: HIP Music Productions Oy, Helsinki, Finland, 4 July 2006, Kiri Te Kanawa’s vocals: rec. mustache studios, London, May 2006; LSO: Abbey Road Studios, London, July 2006. All arrangements by Karl Jenkins.
EMI CLASSICS 3532572 [61:09]
 


Dear Dame Kiri
 
If you are reading this, I want you to know that ever since I first heard a recording of your singing the early 1970s, I have been one of your greatest admirers. Through the years I have bought loads of your LPs and CDs – much to my wife’s desperation; not that she doesn’t like you. We have spent literally hundreds of hours together savouring the delicacies of your singing. When on one of our arrivals in London we were lucky to get hold of two late returns to a recital in Barbican Hall, which had been sold out for months, we were in Heaven. The record collection however threatened to push aside most of our furniture and it was a happy day for us both when I bought equipment that made it possible to copy the LPs to CD and wash away some of the wear and tear in the process – and we saved a lot of space. Critics have sometimes complained about lack of expression in your singing but I have always been of the view that the rare beauty and warmth of your singing more than compensated for whatever under-characterisation there may have been.
 
It has been a long time since there was a new recording with you and I thought that you might have withdrawn from the stage. However when the present disc appeared on our “request list” I jumped at the opportunity to hear you again. It was with some trepidation that I put the disc into my player. One shouldn’t mention a lady’s age but since I knew you were born the same year as my wife I didn’t have much hope that your voice would have survived in the pristine state it was in when I last heard you. In my worst nightmares it might even have been unrecognisable.
 
Since this is a review I have to be honest and there is no hiding the fact: the years have taken their toll. There is today an incipient beat on most sustained notes, not a Wagnerian wobble, mind you, but it does disrupt the smoothness of the line. The vibrato has also widened and is less controlled than it once was; not very surprising. The tone is more frail, can sometimes be a little unsteady, and the creamy timbre from your heyday is nowadays diluted. On the other hand your voice is still easily recognisable, you turn a phrase as memorably as ever and sing a lovely pianissimo as you did in the ‘good old days’. Credit to you also for not pressing the voice beyond today’s narrower compass. While I believe some of your signature roles are no longer within your grasp – or at least not as easily as they once were – in less strenuous repertoire, as here, you make your mark. And when, through the wonders of multi-tracking, you sing with yourself, it is gratifying to notice how well the vocal lines blend.
 
It is quite natural that voices age. That said, I believe that quite a few of your admirers, delightfully conditioned to have high expectations, will be disappointed. If others read this I would advise them to try to listen before buying. Different ears react differently to voices and what one listener regards as fully acceptable can be completely ruled out by another. It isn’t bad, but today it is in a lower realm than it once was.
 
Redeeming factors? Well, maybe. The choice of repertoire could be one. The lovely songs by Carlos Guastavino are to very much to my taste, especially the four Flores Argentinas. Here Karl Jenkins’ orchestrations are at their best: fairly unobtrusive, not so over-loaded as in some numbers on the disc. Much of it, however, is of that symphonic entertainment category though certainly with extremely professional playing. The LSO strings are as smooth as satin, but to my taste there is too much studio sound with larger-than-life percussion and aggressive ethnic choral singing. I didn’t care much for the Allegrettango which feels like a rape of the allegretto from Beethoven’s 7th symphony. The similar treatment of a Chopin mazurka begins and ends like a travesty of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise; much more tasteful than the Beethoven, though.
 
Everything I have written above is my personal reaction and there can of course be no absolute objectivity in this. My reaction to the presentation of this disc is, on the other hand, factual and this goes back to one of my recurrent hang-ups. I can’t understand how a designer can think that any useful purpose is served by having important information printed in minuscule text, yellow on dark brown, throughout. Absolutely mad! Of course this is nothing you can do anything about but I have to mention it for the sake of potential buyers.
 
I am sorry not to be more enthusiastic about this issue, but I have at least tried to analyse why. Although not everything was to my liking I must stress that your singing is as tasteful as it has always been. I doubt though that I will return to this disc very often. Instead, as soon as I have finished this review, I am going to take out your recordings of Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne and Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder, the recording with Solti. Those are amongst my desert island discs.
 
Kindest regards
 
Göran Forsling
 

 



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