On compilation albums like this, a primary question is whether or not you're getting what's being advertised, and in this case, there's a discrepancy between the contents and what's announced on the cover. The cover features a familiar Hirschfeld caricature of José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti, with their names under the banner proclaiming Tenors on Tour. In fact, though, the Three Tenors are joined by three other tenors: Richard Tucker, Mandy Patinkin, and Peter Hoffmann. The listener needs to scrutinize the contents list, too, because except for three classical pieces, all the songs are from the pop or Broadway repertoire. The quality of the performances is variable, ranging from very fine to somewhat embarrassing. More than a third of the album is devoted to selections by Domingo, who can be counted on to sing with solid technique and warm expressiveness. The listener's response to the performances may depend on whether he or she finds Domingo's English pronunciation of popular song lyrics charming or annoying. His Nessun Dorma (in an arrangement by Luis Cobos) is beautifully sung, and there isn't the pronunciation issue, but the track is engineered with such boomy distortion that it sounds like wrong notes (or extra notes) are being played in the bass. English pronunciation is also an issue for Carreras, who otherwise sings well. The most musically successful performances are Pavarotti's Italian songs and Peter Hoffman's "The Long and Winding Road" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which he sounds like a genuine pop singer with delivery that's fully persuasive for the material. The album has enough small annoyances (an "Ave Maria" accompanied by what sounds like a toy piano, Patinkin's excesses in "Giants in the Sky," and lapses of taste in the arrangements) to keep most of the tracks from being fully enjoyable. Tenors on Tour is altogether a shoddy and slipshod production; there are plenty of more satisfying crossover albums featuring star tenors.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
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