Bryn Terfel: Simple Gifts
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Simple but Worthy Gifts
Opera superstar Bryn Terfel brings us another sentimental journey into the vaguely defined popular music, and it's a good one. Sacred/devotional/musical albums are always selling well, and many stars are tempted to record such collections, but I have certainly heard certain disastrous attempts recently. Terfel has a good sense of what works and what does not, and plain good taste, and I really enjoyed this album. Vocally, he achieves something many opera stars really struggle with in such non-operatic material: his singing is simple and unaffected. He always sounds emotional engaged in what he's singing and his diction is crystal clear (from what I can hear in English, German tracks, but I bet there are no problems with his Welsh!) There are twenty songs in total, and some selections are more interesting than the others: the spirituals don't work quite as well as the other songs, but there are several real finds here, like Mozart's Ave Verum, and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, in an unusual arrangement for two baritones. Terfel is joined by another great baritone and my personal favourite, Simon Keenlyside; this is a total tearjerker, and baritone heaven. Keenlyside then returns in Jenkins' Ave Verum, another beautiful piece. Terfel also sings Bach's Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus solo and he sounds just great in simple arrangements of these two classics. He knows how to approach such music and make it sound meaningful, without any saccharine aftertaste. I don't know exactly what Sondheim's Send in the Clowns and the Deer Hunter Cavatina, and The Morning Has Broken are doing on this album, but they go with the flow nicely. And of course Terfel has to sing a Welsh song, and so we get beautifully arranged Mae Ehanger. And finally, he sings Amazing Grace in a heartfelt, simple way. If you would like a diverse, beautifully performed collection of sacred music and traditional songs, without extra double layer of cheese, this is a great choice.
Bryn does it again!
Bryn's voice is impeccable with the somewhat "simple" vocal literature. It is always great to hear him do lighter works then his usual opera repertoire. His instrument is incredible and truly dynamic. I love to hear him sing with such passion however, sometimes oversings on such a fluent melody such as John Rutter's "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." Any individual who has given up on sacred songs by various "CCM Artists" needs to listen to this Divinely-inspired music set!
Get a Handel, Bryn!
Come on folks. This is like Jessye Norman's Lucky (not) To Be Me (Papa, Can You Hear Me?). Deep River is a spiritual and he sings it like it is hermetically sealed for protection. Where is the "spirit"? The Rose? Morning Has Broken? Send In The Clowns? The over-enunciated Simple Gifts? I am a Bryn fan, but one should stick with what one knows. This genre does not suit his instrument. It reminds me of Michael Bolton's CD My Secret Passion which should have remained just that......a secret.
Born: November 9, 1965 in England
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s