I Compani

Aida

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Has Verdi ever sounded better? That might be a loaded question, and the answer will depend on who you ask. Throw in some circus music in the Dutch tradition, add a touch (but not too much!) of free jazz, a little swing here, some tango there, and oh, don't forget the libretto. Add it all together, and what do you have? Opera, as filtered through the lens of the Dutch ensemble I Compani. Not exactly traditional, but Verdi was a radical of sorts in his time, too. Forget your preconceptions, and throw away your woes. If you enjoy Verdi's Aida, you'll find something here to enjoy. Sure, they play it corny, and they sound as though they're having fun, but despite that, there is some mighty fine musicianship too, whether the virtuosic display of cellist Ernst Reijseger on the lovely "Gran Sacerdoterssa" or the inspiring classical vocals of Quirine Melssen throughout. More than simply a jazzed-up version of opera, but something less than the sort of respectful approach to classical music accorded elsewhere so magnificently by jazz pianist Uri Caine, this recording is a bit slick at times and recalls the excesses of some of the works of the Willem Breuker Kollektief. Yet, as with the best of the Kollektief, this is often great fun mixed with some very fine music to boot. Who could ask for anything (or at least much) more?

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