Renée Fleming: The Beautiful Voice
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A Curious But Delightful Opera Mix
This CD is a curious mix of French arias, German warhorses, a Russian vocalize, just one Italian show stopper, and a Carmina Burana free toss. But it works because the music is exquisitely sung by an incredibly "beautiful voice" and superbly accompanied by Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra. The sound is very clear with lots of presence, capturing the instrumental passages such as the beautiful violin solo in "Morgen!" as naturally as Fleming's voice. Fleming’s performance is technically flawless. She has absolutely clear diction so that you can hear every word clearly and the pronunciation of the French and German texts is exquisitely good. Fleming’s voice is vibrant, rich, expressive, free and always perfectly in tune. There is no hint of strain in the voice at any time. Her voice expands and opens up beautifully and power is at her command without sounding like undue pressure is placed on the chords. Yet, Ms. Fleming is also able to be intimate when called upon to do so. She demonstrates this most adeptly in the back-to-back songs "The Last Rose" and "Songs my mother taught me." My favorite selection from this CD is the moving "Marietta's Lied" by Korngold that Fleming performs with a wonderful mix of melancholy and passionate longing. She does a beautiful rendition of 'In Trutina' which is quite different from the way other singers interpret this aria. Usually the song is taken at a quicker pace and is done in a ‘bigger’ way. Fleming chooses a more intimate approach which I actually have come to prefer. I was a little concerned with her choices to do the Jewel song from Faust and “Depuis Le Jour” from Louise because these arias are usually tackled by singers with brighter and more nimble voices. Fleming, however, tackles these arias well and should be applauded for her ability to sing a wide variety of material even if her performance of these two songs is a step down from a great coloratura like Sutherland. Two other highlights from this CD are Fleming’s recordings of Strauss’s “Morgen”, which is I think one of the finest recordings of this song, and her rendition of “Je Marche Sur Tous Les Chemins” from Manon, a role for which Fleming is now performing to critical acclaim on the stage. My only criticisms of Fleming’s performance is that at times her interpretations and ornamentations can be over the top. In particular Fleming has a penchant for adding trills where, I feel, they are not needed and, I'm almost certain, they're not written into the score. That being said this is a gorgeous recording and possibly one of Fleming's best to date. She deserved winning a Grammy for this album and I think it’s definitely worth getting.
How I fell in love with Fleming
This was the first Fleming album I bought and it's the reasson I love her singing and her artistry. At first I was annoyed and very disappointed with it...here is this singer that many are saying is the great soprano of our age and she has this weird, voice that sounds like a turkey gargling. But something about her singing compelled me to keep listening...it was her intensity of music making. She sings every note with great importance and makes sure that each note goes somewhere or does something special...sometimes she can go too far and sound a bit clownish and affected. The reason to listen and keep listening though, is that there is deep passion and love for music. Her singing is more that just a study in vocal technique or attention to style..she may break the rules (often) but it's that passion that keeps people coming back for more. On this album there are a couple of tracks that are less than ideal as far as pure vocal beauty are concerned(6, 11) but the others add to up to a great compilation.
This was my first Cd I purchased of Renee Fleming over 10 years ago. This is still one of my favorite CDS. It is a CD I always take with me when traveling. She sounds amazing on each piece. Each is beautifully sung and artistically presented. Nothing is done just for the sake of show like so many singers seem to love to do. You will love this CD.
Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s