The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, summer and winter, often provide interesting snapshots of the musical lives of the games' host countries, and this commemorative release, from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, is no exception. The album contains not a live recording of the opening ceremonies (there is also a closing-ceremonies album), but a prerecorded (or post-recorded) selection of its musical highlights. Nevertheless, the glitches that plagued the actual show are present here in the form of an inaccurate tracklist; the Canadian-pride monologue "We Are More," which can be described as genuinely charming, is listed as track 15 on the cover but instead appears at the end of track 15 on the actual program. Beyond that, the music isn't uniformly successful but contains various pieces viewers may wish to experience again. Here are the highlights, in order from memorable to forgettable. Few nations have been so fortunate as to have a singer of the caliber of soprano Measha Brueggergosman sing the Olympic Anthem (track 16), and her expansive, showy voice is nothing less than ideal for the occasion. The several tracks featuring actor Donald Sutherland reading various pieces of Canadiana over an orchestral background are hardly less effective. The reappearance of Joni Mitchell with "Both Sides Now" remains a tear-inducing moment. Much of the orchestral music is credited to one Dave Pierce, working with a variety of other composers and arrangers. He had a real knack for devising structures that effectively showcased ethnic musicians. Rhythms of the Fall (track 9), with an orchestral composition providing a frame for a variety of Canadian fiddle styles (including the punk-Maritime playing of the irrespressible Ashley MacIsaac), is worth the purchase price, and even the Aboriginal Welcome, featuring Canadian Native singers and drummers, provides something that wouldn't have been heard in other games. Pierce's various processional pieces are serviceable; less so are the pop pieces, where Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlan delivered music destined to be forgotten. A notable omission is k.d. lang's performance; it would have been good to at least indicate why this wasn't included. All in all, a worthy souvenir, and even an album worth hanging onto for its historical value.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim