Joseph Calleja


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Amore, Joseph Calleja's 2013 Decca release, is a collection of 19 sentimental songs, most of which have been favorites of the vocal repertoire for decades. Bringing youth and vitality to these classics, the Maltese tenor interprets the music in an old-fashioned style, with plenty of schmaltz ladled on by Steven Mercurio and the BBC Concert Orchestra in richly scored arrangements. Yet Calleja's unpretentiousness and light approach keep this album from being cloying, and the ease of his phrasing keeps the music from seeming corny or stagey. While such numbers as La vie en rose and O sole mio will necessarily evoke memories of Édith Piaf and Enrico Caruso, respectively, Calleja's versions have his own expressive stamp, without a trace of mimicry, and even such chestnuts as Bésame mucho and Mattinata have a fresh feeling that makes them enjoyable. Of course, the inclusion of such modern easy listening hits as "Time to Say Goodbye" and "You Raise Me Up" produces a different effect, giving the album a crossover quality that is at variance with the quaint nostalgic mood found in the other songs. Decca's excellent recording gives the album a smooth sound that makes listening effortless.

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