Voices from Heaven by Cecilia Bartoli [Mezzo-Soprano]
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This is the second installment in a recording project originally inspired by Pope John Paul II's visit to Paris in 1997 to celebrate the Worldwide Days of Youth. A surprisingly effective anthology of mostly sacred liturgical music, the selections here occasionally give the impression of "bleeding chunks" (as in the majestic opener from one of Monteverdi's sublimest creations, the 1610 Vespers
) but have been chosen with imagination. Chung coordinates his forces in larger choral pieces with power and vertical balance, making a standout of the Beethovenian mystery and drive apparent in the "Sanctus" from Schubert's Mass in E-flat
. Contributions by Cecilia Bartoli find the mezzo in top form--listen to her finely spun line interweave with the oboe d'amore in a selection from Bach's B Minor Mass
--and as evocative as bright stained glass in Fauré's "Pie Jesu." Bryn Terfel brings charismatic presence to his one selection here (also from the Fauré Requiem
). Also included are the interminable "Song for Athene" by John Taverner and a sentimental but earnest performance by Andrea Bocelli in Eric Levi's hymn for the world, "I Believe." --Thomas May