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Simple Gifts
     

Simple Gifts

5.0 2
by Bryn Terfel
 
By alternating between solid classical releases (like the recent recital of English song, Silent Noon) and fun-filled crossover discs ranging from Broadway hits to Welsh folksongs, Bryn Terfel manages to keep both sides of his fan base equally satisfied. Simple Gifts, however, should bridge the gap between them, weaving

Overview

By alternating between solid classical releases (like the recent recital of English song, Silent Noon) and fun-filled crossover discs ranging from Broadway hits to Welsh folksongs, Bryn Terfel manages to keep both sides of his fan base equally satisfied. Simple Gifts, however, should bridge the gap between them, weaving together sacred classics and traditional songs of inspiration into a satisfying whole. Terfel's warm bass-baritone voice is a natural fit for this kind of music, its sonorous strength conveying rock-solid faith, whether the material is Mozart's "Ave verum corpus" or a standard hymn like "Amazing Grace." Some of the disc's finest moments are those where a second great baritone, Simon Keenlyside, joins in for Pergolesi's "Stabat mater dolorosa" and Karl Jenkins's setting of the "Ave verum corpus," composed especially for Terfel; other guests include guitarist John Williams on Stanley Myers's intimate "She Was Beautiful." The latter song -- along with an 11th-hour digression into Broadway territory for Sondheim's "Send In the Clowns" -- might seem out of place on a spiritual album, yet they both express a kind of soul searching that fits the program perfectly, and Terfel singing Sondheim is naturally a complete delight. All in all, Simple Gifts is a deeply stirring album, thanks in part to Chris Hazell's tasteful orchestrations and the wonderful choral performances of the London Voices, but mostly for the direct emotional appeal of Terfel's singing -- an artistic gift that's anything but simple.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
What is this Bryn Terfel collection, exactly, that contains "Simple Gifts," the beginning of Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater," "Send in the Clowns," and even "The Rose" (not the one e'er blooming, but the Bette Midler or Conway Twitty vehicle)? It is, per the back cover text, Bryn's "personal collection of sacred, spiritual, and meditative songs." The album still might seem like quite a hodgepodge to a browser reading the tracklist, but it is exactly the elusiveness of the thread connecting these songs that makes this a superior example of the crossover vocal species. The key to the program is the large presence of American music, with six American pieces (one of them Mormon) plus several others, such as "How Great Thou Art" (originally Swedish), that are known to the world as American songs even though they originally came from somewhere else. Terfel sings these like a native, which is actually less remarkable than it sounds (his native language is Welsh, not English, so neither accent is "normal" for him), and he uses a certain quality of American religiosity, either down-to-earth and luminous or warm-and-fuzzy depending on your perspective, as a springboard for the whole presentation. What Terfel grasps, as so few other Europeans do, is that Americans feel the same when they hear "The Rose" as when they soak up positive platitudes from their spiritual leaders. Into this framework Terfel fits an impressive variety of other music, a good deal of it traditional. There is one of the Welsh hymns he does so well; there is the English chestnut "I'll Walk Beside You"; there is a familiar Australian hymn called "Bless This House"; there is some John Rutter and the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria." But the American hymns are the best of all; Terfel realizes, maybe even better than Lowell Mason himself, that "Nearer My God to Thee" was a feel-good piece, not a meditation on death. Terfel sticks to the middle of his range, but he does a great deal within the boundaries he chooses. He moves imperceptibly from crooning in the popular songs to a tamped-down operatic vocalism in the classical selections. A few duets with other singers offer variety in a program that, far from not hanging together, actually starts to seem like too much of a good thing. With lots of singers trying to deliver the big crossover albums, Bryn Terfel just may have done it with this one. If you're looking for warm sounds to fill your living room in winter, don't miss these.
Gramophone - John Steane
There is much that gives pleasure. Terfel himself has the gift to be simple and, in something almost amounting to genius, the gift of communication. With him, the words live and become vivid.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/11/2005
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947755630
catalogNumber:
000477202
Rank:
89820

Tracks

  1. Ave verum Corpus, motet for chorus, strings & organ, K. 618
  2. Deep River
  3. The Lord Bless You and Keep You, for chorus & orchestra
  4. I'll Walk Beside You
  5. Stabat mater, for soprano, alto, strings & organ in F major
  6. Still, Still, Still (Stille, stille, stille) (German)
  7. Simple Gifts
  8. How Great Thou Art (Tune: O store Gud)
  9. Panis angelicus for tenor, organ, harp, cello & bass
  10. Bless This House, for chorus & keyboard
  11. Ave Verum Corpus
  12. The Deer Hunter, film score: She Was Beautiful (Cavatina)
  13. The Rose
  14. Amazing Grace (Tune: New Britain)
  15. Tosturi Duw (God's Mercy), song for voice & organ
  16. Morning Has Broken (Tune: Bunessan)
  17. Nearer My God to Thee, for voice & piano (or orchestra)
  18. Ave Maria, for voice & piano (after Bach's Prelude No. 1 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)
  19. Send in the Clowns (from the musical "A Little Night Music")
  20. God Be With You Till We Meet Again

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