The Canadian Tenors

The Perfect Gift

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Give the Canadian Tenors credit; they push the massed tenors concept in new directions rather than simply adding Canadian affability onto the usual Three Tenors-type repertory. For one thing, there are four tenors, not three. But the big change is that they steer away from straight classical arrangements into full-blown pop crossover, complete with a great deal of programming and electronic percussion. The reference point here is not Pavarotti, et al., but Sarah Brightman, and your reaction to this collection of Christmas music will likely depend on how you feel about music that submerges the voice in heavy production of this kind. For those coming from the classical side there are going to be some problems here, beginning with the fact that a couple of these singers aren't what would usually be called tenors. This said, the music is competently executed and will please fans of the big crossover production. The variety in voice types is actually a strong point: the arrangements make nice use, for example, of the distinctive voice of member Clifton Murray, whose background is not in opera but in gospel. The individual numbers include pieces in English, French, and Italian, and the Canadian standard The Huron Carol is also present, probably more dressed up in pop costume than it has ever been before. The guitar pictured on the cover could hardly be called a prominent feature in the mix, but many of the arrangements begin with a solo voice and an accompaniment in which the guitar appears, then bringing together the singers in ensembles and complete quartets. You may like the Canadian Tenors, or you may not, but they're clearly a major new entry in the crossover sweepstakes, and with appearances on Oprah and elsewhere in the U.S. mass media they're ready to exploit the still largely wide-open crossover market in North America.

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