Renee Fleming: Sacred Songs
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Fleming performs a concert from Mainz Cathedral November 2005 with the Mainz Cathedral Choir and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, conducted by Trevor Pinnock, in Christmas and other works by Handel, Hammerschmidt, Franck, Mozart, Praetorious, Wade, Fau
Renée Fleming, a.k.a. "The Beautiful Voice," is in fine form here, the voice gleaming with radiance in a November 2005 concert in Mainz Cathedral. With an orchestra under the baton of early music guru Trevor Pinnock, she opens with an abundantly embellished "Rejoice greatly," from Handel's Messiah and ends with Adolphe Adam's Christmas staple, "O Holy night" in a soupy arrangement by Chris Hazell. The musical highlights are the "Laudamus te" from Mozart's Mass in C minor and "L'Adieu des bergers" from Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ, the former exciting for its coloratura, the latter a touch fussy, while in other selections, tonal beauty is bought with mushy diction. Chorus and orchestra get several selections for themselves, but the spotlight's on Fleming, very much the décolleté gowned diva. Mainz Cathedral is a handsome structure whose graceful columns and vaulted ceiling make for interesting visuals that complement the music. Added bonus songs include Bernstein's "A Simple Song" from his Mass, and a pair of traditional items including "Silent Night," these shot in front of a crèche and a Christmas tree with singer and accompanists wrapped in winter clothes. Extras include still photos and a film about the cathedral. Fleming's fans will snap this up. --Dan Davis
- Filmed in Mainz Cathedral November 13, 2005
- Bonus songs: A Simple Song, The Holly and the Ivy, Silent Night
- Music video: Ave Maria (Schubert)
- Photo gallery
- Mainz Cathedral film
- Mainz impressions
- Sung texts enclosed
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When you combine her singing with my favorite time of year, Christmas, and my favorite European destination, Germany, you have a treat which cannot be surpassed. Her voice, soaring through the Cathedral of Mainz, is like a precious stone in an exquisite setting, and provides a muscial experience that transports me to that place and time at every hearing.
Strange as this might sound, I had never heard Renee Fleming. I had seen several photos of her and assumed (wrongly!) that she was just another opera singer they were promoting to sell her recordings in other markets.
It was an eye-opener. Renee Fleming sings with precision and ease, and every song demonstrates that she has worked hard to acquire the education and training to make her singing seem effortless. On top of this, she sings with warmth and feeling, seeming to be enjoying the concert as much as those assembled in Mainz Cathedral, and we who watch it on dvd.
The only negative thing I would say is that I hated her dress--it simply was not at all flattering to her. But her good looks, her immense talents, her enthusiasm, and the beautiful Mainz Cathedral all contributed to make this a Christmas concert that is a gift to all who see and hear it. After some of Renee's brilliant embellishments, the camera even catches the face of one of the musicians whose face seems to indicate that she has just heard some superlative singing--that she was there to bear witness to an exceptional performance. Once you see it, I think you will agree--it's a magic moment--a magical Christmas concert.
Renee also looks fabulous with her classical beauty and designer gown.
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