Given his versatility -- skipping from opera to art song, and even Broadway show tunes with an enviable ease -- Bryn Terfel is the perfect candidate to pull off what so many operatic stars try without success: a musically satisfying crossover album. Unfortunately, this isn't it. The opening "Toréador" from Carmen is over-sung and lacks style; the folk songs, like "Danny Boy" and "Shenandoah," and even the Welsh "Bugeilo'r Gwenith Gwyn" are shapeless and bombastic; and in general, these favorites are sorely missing the expressive imagination, soul, and vocal charisma that made Terfel such a star. He doesn't get much help from conductor Barry Wordsworth, who bulldozes the simple appeal of many of these songs with square phrasing, slow tempos, and a "more is more" approach. There are also some strange production choices, such as doing James Horner's "My Heart Will Go On" in Italian ("Il mio cuore va"); it's a surprisingly workable translation, but still random. There is some good news. Brahms' "Lullaby" is charming and sweet, and the spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" has an old-fashioned sincerity that puts the overly proper London Voices to good use. Andrea Bocelli and Sissel's guest contributions will please their fans; Sissel in particular manages to bring a tender lyricism out of Terfel as he descants to her melody in Schubert's Ave Maria. But by far, the standout performance on the album is "Lazybones," performed winningly with guitarist and arranger Martin Taylor. It is intimate and dripping with style, and in that way it stands entirely apart from the rest of the album; it shows what Terfel can do under the right circumstances, and it is almost good enough to justify buying this otherwise indifferent collection of chestnuts.
AllMusic Review by Allen Schrott
|Les Pêcheurs de perles, opera in 3 acts|
|Lady and the Tramp, film score|