Various Artists

Now! Classical

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About half of the tracks on EMI's collection Now! Classical are devoted to popular and well-known classical selections and about half are crossover hits performed by crossover stars. The classical pieces include selections from Puccini's La bohème, the "Flower Duet" from Delibes' Lakmé, a movement from a Mozart piano concerto, a Chopin piano nocturne, and a movement from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Among the crossover pieces are the Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso, Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and the Theme from Ladies in Lavender. The selections, taken from EMI's archives, feature top-notch performances; for example, Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna sing "O soave fanciulla" from La bohème, violinist Sarah Chang and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra perform the first movement of "Spring" from the Four Seasons, the Canadian Tenors sing a richly orchestrated version of Hallelujah, Sarah Brightman sings Pie Jesu, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra led by composer Nigel Hess plays the Theme from Ladies in Lavender. The sound for all the tracks is consistently very fine. The title of the album is somewhat ambiguous; purchasers might assume that it is a traditional classical collection, when in fact it is aiming at stretching the widespread definition of what can be considered classical by including a wider-than-usual selection of pieces. In any case, it is an altogether classy production that should please fans of classical crossover.

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