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Guilty Pleasures

4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 17, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Guilty Pleasures is the long-awaited follow-up to Renees Grammy winner The Beautiful Voice. This album allows Renee to indulge in musical cherry-picking, singing songs and arias in eight different languages. The sheer, unabashed beauty of these pieces provides their thematic connection. Ranging from familiar favorites like the Flower Duet from Lakme (sung with Renees friend Susan Graham) to rapturous, rarely-heard melodies of Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Rachmaninov, Guilty Pleasures is a collection of treats Renee has long wanted to enjoy: an album of pure gratification. A special treat is an aria from John Coriglianos The Ghosts of Versailles, a twentieth-century American opera that allows Renee the chance to sing in her native language.

Renee Fleming was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the President of the USA on July 10th. The recognition is for her contributions to American music. Known to many as the peoples diva, Ms Fleming has captivated audiences around the world with an adventurous repertoire spanning opera and the classical tradition to jazz and contemporary pop.

Review

Superstar soprano Renée Fleming sung with a voice that demanded to be "loved for its beauty" . . . in this concentrated selection of lieder . . . Fleming showed that she's not just about the languorous legato, luscious top notes and frocks, even if none of those was in short supply . . . a world-beating diva . . . Fleming's control was largely impeccable . . . tonal beauty was allied to honestly affecting interpretation . . . --The Daily Telegraph
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Digital Booklet: Guilty Pleasures
Digital Booklet: Guilty Pleasures
Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: Susan Graham
  • Conductor: Sebastian Lang-Lessing
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz, Eugene Marie Henri Fouques Duparc, Licinio Refice, Manuel de Falla, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, et al.
  • Audio CD (September 17, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00DM2Q9I0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,224 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAME on September 17, 2013
Format: Audio CD
The title of this collection, Guilty Pleasures, has nothing to do with its contents (it might have if Renee Fleming sang the greatest hits of the Sex Pistols), but a rose by any other name. At 54, Fleming remains in possession of a lustrous lyric voice - no other American soprano after Leontyne Price comes as close to being a national treasure. Her sound is as distinctive as Kiri Te Kanawa's and is very similar in its bright timbre and feminine allure. It's a voice that asks to be loved.

Fleming's only weakness, really, is her inability to act vocally except within a limited range (the same has been said of Te Kanawa). She is at her best when spinning out a gloriously beautiful lyric line, as she does here in almost every number. Fleming was unlucky to be in her prime when the record companies produced so few complete operas. But her solo recordings have been a smash, and this new one deserves to be, too. I was unhappy with her verismo album - she just isn't a gutsy singer - and her crossover releases, like the best-selling Beautiful Voice, suffer at times from slack, diva-indulgent conducting. Happily, the conducting here by Sebastian Lang-Lessing leading the wonderful Philharmonia Orch. is more appealing. Decca has always given Fleming deluxe treatment, as she certainly deserves.

The repertoire on the program is very diverse, but what weaves it together is gorgeous melody - Fleming has chosen songs and arias that a newcomer to opera will find ravishing. For avid opera fans, the highlight will probably be the spectacularly sung Flower Duet from Lakme with Susan Graham, a vocal marvel from two longtime partners on stage. For me, a particular delight was Fleming's singing in French, a language that makes her voice even more glittering.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I adore Renee Fleming, not unusual for music lovers. I can listen to the CDs of her recitals that I own endlessly. So I looked forward to listening to this one. Nowadays, I buy almost exclusively MP3s. Most of the time, the loss involved in the sound compression doesn't bother me, often I barely notice it, whatever this says about the fine tuning of my ear. But in this case, the digitizing of the music flattened out Ms. Fleming's magnificent voice and somehow--I'm not an engineer--interfered with the rich layering of sound that her singing produces. On first hearing, all the tracks sounded weirdly the same. Subsequent listening reduced this. I am entirely confident that on the pressed CD, these artifacts would disappear entirely. On the MP3, the experience was still sufficiently enjoyable to merit 3 stars (as well as respect for a superlative artist), though giving this great singer's work such tepid endorsement didn't come easily. If you're considering Ms. Fleming's recital albums, by all means try for the CD, in this case it's definitely worth it.
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A stunningly beautiful collection of music performed by the finest voice in classical music today. Renee Fleming never disappoints! Her voice has become more beautiful over the years and this collection of songs transports you away from the more familiar operatic compositions to the romantic lieder music of Strauss, Wagner, Delibes, Duparc and more. Beautiful and delicate the songs float into your consciousness and offer a wonderful escape into a happy place of relaxation and peace after any stressful day. I would highly recommend this to everyone.
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Format: Audio CD
Old hands will already know if they like Renée Fleming's smoky, lustrous soprano as I do, so I suggest that if you do you will find here everything to satisfy your desire to hear this glorious voice caress some of the most beautiful melodies in the classical repertoire.

Just the presence of that most stately yet affecting of arias, "Ombra di Nube", was enough to make me buy this disc. Does Fleming efface memories of the divine Claudia Muzio? No; the combination of incipient frailty and suppressed hysteria in Muzio's account is here replaced by a more measured mellowness but the glorious sound given to Fleming and her creamy legato afford their own pleasures.

This is a voice still in its prime because, now approaching her mid-fifties, Fleming has looked after it and paced her career very carefully. Fleming sings in seven languages and at no point seems to be stretched beyond her already ample vocal resources. I can hear no deterioration or even change in her voice since she burst upon the international scene twenty-five years ago. The trill is intact, the top notes floaty, the lower register trenchant. Her French diction is a bit mushy but that is a drawback inherent in a soprano which eschews Gallic brightness in favour of Latinate warmth; the slightly husky sound is ideally suited to the musky, Arabic melismata of Falla's songs or the erotic, languorous Songs of the Auvergne by Canteloube. She pays tribute to her long-standing partnership with mezzo Susan Graham by their singing together the Flower Duet from "Lakmé". The Dvorak song bears an uncanny but not unwelcome resemblance to the celebrated "Song to the Moon" from"Rusalka".

A thematic rag-bag this compilation may be, but her fans won't care and you won't hear a more seductive assemblage of vocal plums than this homage to the supremacy of pure melody - nor have we heard a plusher, more velvety sound since Leontyne Price in her glory years.
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