Cirque du Soleil

Mystère: Live in Las Vegas

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The live-recorded soundtrack of Cirque du Soleil's hugely successful production Mystere is fuller, richer, more powerful, and more gripping than the studio album or the recordings of earlier shows such as Saltimbanco. The musicians and vocalists lose no finesse in the live version; if anything, they sound more confident. Also, the album follows the sequence of the show, which gives it a sense of continuity that is lacking in the studio album. From the eerie, disturbing opening strains of "Ramsani" to the thunderous drums of "Taiko," this album offers a tapestry of sound that is nearly seamless. The vocal stylings of returning soprano Nathalie Gauvin and new addition Wendy Talley manage to be sweet and raw at the same time. Several tracks are exclusive to the live album. One of the best is the seven-minute "High Bar," an exultant, dramatic cascade of sound. The string instruments and vocals soar one moment and plummet the next, just like the acrobatic routine that they accompany. Songs such as "Ulysse," "Kalimando," and "Finale" are tinged with equal parts longing and joy. A full complement of acoustic, modern, and exotic instruments create a sound like no other. Of all the Cirque du Soleil albums, this is the one that best shows why this troupe evolved from street performers to world-famous artists in a single decade.

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