Angèle Dubeau / La Pietà

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This release by Quebec violinist Angèle Dubeau is dedicated specifically to Dubeau's fellow survivors of serious illness, in her case cancer, expressing the aim of "luminous music that can bring interior peace through its strength and powerful evocation." As such it might seem to differ little from any number of other crossover releases filled with mellow tunes. But Dubeau's album has reached the Canadian top ten, indicating that plenty of healthy buyers have found it. What sets it apart from the competition is first the variety of the music that gets fit into the basic middle-of-the-road template, and second the rich string arrangements that surround Dubeau's violin and its piercing yet sweet tone. Her version of Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken (track 6) sounds like one of the lush Japanese string orchestra Beatles arrangements from the 1960s. But even better is the mixture of tunes that Dubeau and her all-female ensemble La Pietà adapt for their purposes: the music is a good deal more heterogeneous than it may seem. Try to find another album on which Stevens coexists with Osvaldo Golijov, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and even the iconoclastic American-South African rocker Shawn Phillips. Ultimate reactions to this album will depend on how listeners feel about an entire program of uniformly moderate-tempo and tonally plain melodies, but anyone may find Dubeau's release more effective than expected. Studio sound from a multimedia center at McGill University in Montreal is a major plus.

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