Spirituals in Concert
James Levine, Jessye Norman & Kathleen Battle
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Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!
I inherited this cd, and what an inheritance! Spirituals are the sacred music of the African-American musical tradition. It is the stock of a New World phenomenon as rich as Bach and Handel. It is the broth of Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Prince. All great musical traditions arise from a spiritual context. Two great sopranos, Hubert Laws, Nancy Allen, and James Levine bring it all together.
Levine, Norman and Battle, plus a great chorus, ought to make for a perfect gospel moment. They almost do, but what detracts a bit is the show-biz razzle that these stars can't resist imposing on songs that are intended to be heartfelt and spiritual. A little less winking at the audience and a little more passion for the meaning of the music would have saved the album.
I once had the laser disc of this concert and watched it many, many times. Even showed it to my students many times and each time I could enjoy it as if it were the first time.
Born: June 23, 1943 in Cincinnati, OH
Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s