Natalie Choquette

Æterna

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

Soprano Natalie Choquette is equally known for her operatic singing and her comedy routines, and she has had considerable success with her entertaining show with symphony orchestra, Who Ever Said Opera Was Boring? However, Choquette's award-winning album Æterna, released on the Canadian ZYX label, is an unexpectedly reverent turn for this vivacious diva/comedienne, yet disappointingly typical for an inspirational vocal collection. The program is for the most part predictable, with many of the most familiar Christian songs and arias of all time presented in polished arrangements for choir and chamber orchestra by Éric Lagacé, Choquette's husband, and feature her as soloist and in duets with alto Noëlla Huet or with her daughter, Éléonore Lagacé. The disc won the Félix Award for Classical Album of the Year, no doubt because it is the kind of popular spiritual music that appeals to a lay audience without challenging expectations. However, as lovely as Choquette's solos usually are, as pretty as the music often is, and as sincere as the performances seem, this album is really just a greatest sacred hits compilation that has few high points to recommend it. The "Pie Jesu" from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, touchingly performed by Choquette, is far and away the best track, and it should have obviated Andrew Lloyd Webber's vapid Pie Jesu, which early on blemishes the album; the soothing "Pater Noster" by Nicolas Kedroff is a welcome rarity that brings an Eastern Orthodox flavor to the proceedings; and Raynald Arseneault's stark "Alléluia" brings a much-needed somber tone to this generally innocuous collection. The audio is fine on most of these performances, but there are some tracks that seem unnecessarily boosted and bass heavy.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:31
2
2:37
Requiem for soloists, chorus & orchestra
3
3:08
Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068
4
3:23
Serse (Xerxes), opera, HWV 40
5
3:04
Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174)
6
2:55
Stabat mater, for soprano, alto, strings & organ in F major
7
3:04
8
1:05
9
2:07
Cantata No. 78, "Jesu, der du meine Seele," BWV 78 (BC A130)
10
4:50
Vesperae solennes de confessore for soloists, chorus & orchestra, K. 339
11
4:33
12
4:14
La forza del destino, opera
13
2:49
Requiem, for 2 solo voices, chorus, organ & orchestra, Op. 48
14
3:42
15
3:27
16
3:46
17
1:53
18
3:19
19
2:43
20
1:51
21
4:24
blue highlight denotes track pick