State of Grace III

Paul Schwartz

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State of Grace III Review

by William Ruhlmann

Composer Paul Schwartz's success on the new age and classical crossover charts may be traced to his willingness to address many different aspects of the audiences for those musical styles. Fans of Enya and Enigma, of Yanni and George Winston, will not be turned away from a Schwartz recording. This crowd-pleasing aspect of Schwartz's music is apparent in his fondness for sequels; this is the third in his spiritually oriented State of Grace series, and he is also three albums into his Aria franchise of reinvented opera music. State of Grace III is typically eclectic, starting with "Christie Redemptor," which marries lyrics from an Advent hymn sung by a heavily echoed Lisbeth Scott to techno beats underlying a string section. "Agnus Dei" boasts a choir, leading into the traditional "Beams of Heaven," which finds Scott fronting an orchestra. Acoustic guitarist Billy Sideman is heard on the folkish "Center of My Heart," a song which he co-wrote, and the two parts of "Lux Aeterna" and "...Et Lux Perpetua" sound like background music in search of a soundtrack to attach itself to. Scott returns for the simple "To You" and "Listen," for which she provided lyrics. "Salve Regina" borrows more Latin, this time sung by Broadway star Rebecca Luker, leading into Schwartz's piano in a duet with violinist Lucia Micarelli on "Soledad." The album concludes with two so-called "bonus tracks," which are borrowed from the first two State of Grace albums. The compositions are long enough to establish their varying moods, but no one style overstays its welcome, making the disc seem more like a sampler by different performers than a coherent whole, but that's worked for Schwartz in the past.

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