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Album Review

A live recording of the 25th annual Winter Solstice concert from Paul Winter and a remarkable cast at St. John's Cathedral in New York. It's become a vital seasonal tradition, with music spanning the globe (and the addition of a DVD in the package), from gospel to the Balkans, Irish to new age. In many ways it defies description, being so eclectic. Yet at the same time maybe it's one of those you-had-to-be-there things, since, on disc at least, it becomes something to be admired rather than emotionally involved with. The quality of the musicianship is never less than brilliant — Winter attracts the highest caliber of performer — but at the same time there's a slight sense of blandness about it. "Sound Over All Waters," for example, is a moving gospel piece, but here it comes across more Whitney Houston than Mahalia Jackson — a quavering voice doesn't equal emotion, no matter what the pop divas say. The live context takes away much of the subtlety, unfortunately, and you're left more with performances than intricate pieces of music. However, that said, it has a power.

Silver Solstice, Paul Winter Consort & Friends
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