Various Artists

Harmony: The Official Athens 2004 Olympic Games Classical Album

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Released in relation to the Athens Olympics in 2004, Harmony is purportedly a classical album, but in reality is a fair bit less coherent. Classical music is the core, with a few instrumental pieces as well as operatic works here and there. Along with this, though, are a fair number of new age and adult contemporary-style works. The majority of the pieces are relatively popular crossover hits from the last decade, and the artists involved nearly all hold some name value. The collection itself is certainly well performed -- these are artists of an extremely high caliber after all. The mix of styles is likely intended to represent the cross-culturalism of the Olympics, but the tone is very overly Western European and relatively modern. The real treats are those pieces and performers with less (though still some) name value in the West. Natacha Atlas provides some exquisite vocals on a track with Nigel Kennedy and Kroke, and Vanessa-Mae leaves a very nice contemporary classical piece related to the reunification of Hong Kong with mainland China. A nice album, though one would be better served by a basic "opera's greatest hits" album, or similar items on the market.

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