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Classic Kathleen Battle: A Portrait

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Editorial Reviews

Product description

CD

Amazon.com

This compilation of previous releases is clearly intended to include something for everybody and to offer an overview of Kathleen Battle's wide, varied repertoire. The result is a motley assortment of music sacred and profane, Baroque, classical and romantic, Spanish and American folksongs, and jazz. It is Battle's radiant, impeccably produced voice, which sheds a glow over every note she sings, and her effortless coloratura and serene expressiveness that provide the unifying, and most rewarding, element.

Four new recordings sound just as glorious as those she made years ago. One is the famous aria from Puccini's "i"Gianni Schicchi performed with piano--a strange misfit among all the arias with orchestra. Wynton Marsalis plays Bach and Handel brilliantly, but sounds too loud and prominent. And despite some baroque ornamentation, he plays in a style so different from hers that the two hardly seem to be performing the same piece. The Orchestra of St. Luke's plays beautifully; an anonymous orchestra under Robert Sadin is competent but too matter-of-fact. A mournful, repetitive duet with Jessye Norman against a background of unearthly noises from Vangelis's Mythodea sounds like an angelic plea for mercy.

In the finale of Mahler's Fourth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel, Battle captures just the right blend of childlike wonder and heavenly bliss. Of the jazz numbers, one by Duke Ellington is lovely, but Dvorák would have been quite surprised by the arrangement of the Largo from his "New World" Symphony. However, the tonality is right, and Battle sings the melody so beautifully that she almost redeems it. "i"--Edith Eisler

Classic Kathleen Battle: A Portrait

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