Various Artists

Classical Love Songs

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Classical Love Songs is a compilation album that delivers exactly what its title implies, and it does so beautifully. It's notable for a number of admirable attributes. Most importantly, the quality of the singing is superlative. Deutsche Grammophon has culled some of the finest vocal performances from its catalog of compete operas and vocal recitals. It's difficult to single out individuals for special praise, since all the tracks feature top-notch singers, most of them recognized superstars, at the top of their game. The sound quality is excellent; all but three of the tracks were recorded digitally, and those are skillfully remastered, so there is never a sense of listening to a historic but sonically inferior performance. The album offers a nice diversity of material; most of the selections come from the standard operatic repertoire, but there is also "One Hand, One Heart" from West Side Story and Martini's eighteenth century song "Plaisir d'amour." There is a good combination of solos and duets. The themes are varied, too; some are conventional love songs to be sung to one's beloved, some are laments of disappointed lovers, some are songs of seduction, and some are contemplative reflections on love. The accompanying booklet clearly identifies the performances from which the excerpts were taken, so listeners looking for more can locate the sources' recordings. The quality of the performances and the high production standards make this an album that should appeal to seasoned opera fans, as well as casual listeners looking for a sampling of romantic vocal music.

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