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Echoes of Nightingales Import
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This delightful disc from Christine Brewer, one of the most admired sopranos of today, pays homage to both an important musical tradition and four great sopranos from the past. The repertoire includes the encore-songs performed by Kirsten Flagstad, Eileen Farrell, Helen Traubel and Eleanor Steber at the end of their recitals. Brewer is ably accompanied by her long-time collaborator Roger Vignoles.
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Well, it really takes a St. Louis Woman, as Mme Traubel would remind us, to deliver this material--some mawkishly sentimental--with a straight face, and some British reviewers (who had admired Brewer's scaling down for the Hyperion Schubert Lieder omnibus project) took great and immediate offense over this warmhearted and respectful release. Completely missing its conceptual and musicological foci, they excoriated Brewer for squandering a magnificently large instrument and technique on slight, lesser (and mostly American) songs. This completely ignores hallowed American performance traditions for concertizing divas and divos (the great Jussi Bjoerling shared idiomatically in this repertoire as well), and it shamelessly begs the moot question of the classical singer's artistic right to cross over and sing the Broadway blues--Farrell yes, Dame Kiri no. (I worry that our spoilt British cousins have simply grown unused to a robust colonial voice this huge and commanding, since the really big British voices like Eva Turner's or Rita Hunter's come round so seldom.) Christine had another influential mentor, one Birgit Nilsson, who I believe would just cackle over the inane and ignorant Brewer brouhaha and launch into another giddy encore of "I could have danced all night."
She has a magical voice and I always purchase her new CDs as they are released, many personally autographed by Christine.