In a career that's veered from '70s pop chanteuse to Broadway star and neo-operatic diva, Sarah Brightman has brought a critics-be-damned sense of dramatic scale to nearly every project she's tackled. This two-CD package of 31 hits brings together selections from Brightman's original Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection
, including many definitive versions of Lloyd Webber classics. Also included are songs from her album Encore
, which itself was largely culled from her Songs That Got Away
song anthologies, although they do include four previously unreleased outtakes from those collections.
Her 1998 recording of the title song from ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind succeeds by emphasizing its melodic grace with a deft, airy touch, while the remainder rescue worthy songs from obscure or failed musicals. From Lerner and Lane's 1959 Carmelina comes the lovely "One More Walk Around the Garden." Stephen Sondheim's youthful 1954 debut, Saturday Night, yields a sprightly take on "What More Do I Need," and an operatic reading of "In the Mandarin's Orchid Garden," from the Gershwins' unproduced 1929 East Is West, is also included. If the selection leans a little too heavily on the Lloyd Webber connection elsewhere (including Italian versions of "Guardami (With One Look)" from Sunset Boulevard and "Piano (Memory)" from Cats, delivered in her patently restraint-free soprano), they're only reminders that shrewdness has hardly been the least of Brightman's talents. --Jerry McCulley