The wait is over! Nick and Thomas cherry-picked the musicians who perform on this album. Keeping up with the tradition of Two Steps from Hell, there's great emphasis on power and memorable melodies, supported by a large orchestra and choirs. If you liked Invincible and Archangel, you will enjoy SkyWorld.
Tuscan tenor Andrea Bocelli was already an international superstar (for Romanza, Aria, and Sogno) when he made his first album of arias and sacred music. "I have known these pieces since childhood," he explains, and it's clear that he loves them all. Recorded in a Roman cathedral, Sacred Arias is deeply spiritual and tenderly sung in the world's most beautiful voice. A Billboard bestseller, certified platinum. (62 minutes) When he was growing up, Andrea Bocelli recalls finding inspiration in a favorite recording of sacred music performed by tenor legend Franco Corelli. Bocelli--who in the meantime has come to inspire millions of fiercely loyal fans himself--returns to the genre as the guiding theme of Sacred Arias, the release of which coincides with the first English-language biography of the singer. These performances are filled with the singer's phenomenally well-known vocal signature: his flair for long, sweetly floating high notes and the gentle sense of cadence he brings to a melody. It's a mistake to compartmentalize Bocelli into a singer of "operatic" versus "popular" styles: in truth his approach is at heart the same. Lack of color and control in his phrasing remains a drawback, but the emotional empathy Bocelli evokes is never in doubt. The arias collected here sample some of the most famous devotional pieces: Schubert's "Ave Maria" and Mozart's transporting "Ave Verum," as well as an arrangement of "Silent Night" in which Bocelli tries out his English. There's also a decidedly odd choice of bedfellows for a program of "sacred" music, such as a song from Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder (whose "angel" is the object of an overpoweringly erotic attraction) and Handel's figurative ode to a tree, "Ombra mai fu." Still, Bocelli sings with an unfeigned directness that is sure to expand his already enormous following even further. --Thomas May
Mater Eucharistiae is the first ever recording from The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.Be transported to their Ann Arbor chapel and experience their beautiful and pure renditions of sacred music.The fifteen peaceful and serene songs of this debut release will include original compositions written by the Sisters that reflect their Dominican spirituality, along with aselection of modern and ancient hymns and chants in English and in Latin.Singing both a capella and with the accompaniment of organ, trumpet, and chimes, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have created a collection that is reflective of the music in their daily community life.The Sisters may be recognized due to their multiple appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the extensive publicity they have received in the US and Canada through outlets such as The New York Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News and beyond. The Dominican Sisters of Mary placed in the finals of the recentseason of The American Bible Challenge, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on The Game Show Network. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, founded 16 years ago and with 110 sisters currently in the Community, also have teaching missions in schools all over the US.They chant the Divine Office throughout the day and their favorite hymns throughout the year, while also composing music of their own. They follow in the thirteenth-centuryfootsteps of St. Dominic, while very much engaging the modern world.Their Motherhouse is in Ann Arbor, MI, and they are in the process of raising funds to construct a new priory in Texas. Producer: Blanton Alspaugh
Upshaw/London Symphony Orchestra. This recording went to the top of the Pop charts in England, and it's been at the top of our classical chart for 17 weeks last time we looked! This album, which catapulted Polish composer Henryk Gorecki to into the international spotlight, takes texts born in pain and turns them into statements of affirmation through the use of music that ebbs and flows in mystic minimalism. The clear voice of soprano Dawn Upshaw, singing the Polish texts, is a large part of the success of this particular recording, but the music, contemporary without either dissonance or movie-music mawkishness, clarifies and uplifts the words. This is a moving and essential element of the modern repertoire. --Sarah Bryan Miller
Manufacturer: American Gramaphone
Brand: MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER
Distinctive instrumental interpretations of traditional holiday songs from around the world. Includes God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Deck the Halls; We Three Kings; Good King Wenceslas; Stille Nacht; Coventry Carol , and more. Depending on your point of view, Christmas is either a quaint sonic time capsule extracted from the mid-1980s or a timeless holiday classic. The first in what has become an ongoing series of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas recordings, this CD has sold millions, which seems to indicate that it is everything its advertising claims it to be: "America's favorite Christmas music." The powerfully successful Mannheim Steamroller formula, conceived by group mastermind Chip Davis, involves a blend of Renaissance-flavored moods and instrumentation (strings, harpsichord, flute, French horn) intertwined with polite pop instrumental music. At times, the analog synthesizers used in this 1984 recording sound dated and a little cheesy, particularly on "Deck the Halls" and "Good King Wenceslas." But it is a forgivable offense since live instruments and the earnest but ersatz medieval atmosphere they evoke dominate 8 of the 11 tracks. As pleasant and soothing as a Willard Scott birthday wish, Christmas does offer one selection that truly merits "classic" status: the reverent, prayerful, slow-motion interpretation of "Silent Night" ("Stille Nacht") for piano and strings that closes the album--a beautiful and heart-touching work. This selection alone makes this album worth owning. --Terry Wood
Manufacturer: Decca Records
2009 album from the non-conforming Classical artist. Garrett's unique, and wholly individual style, pays as much homage to Metallica as to Mozart. This self-titled release covers an incredibly diverse selection of repertoire, representing his love for many genres, and the ability to tackle each successfully. Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' is cleverly reinterpreted, as is Queen's ballad, 'Who Wants to Live Forever'. AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' is given a memorable new twist, alongside, 'He's a Pirate' from Pirates of the Caribbean. Given his enduring commitment to his first musical love, David still includes some classical selections on this album including the last movement of Vivaldi's 'Summer' from The Four Seasons, and Bach's 'Air'. Not to be satisfied with only imaginative covers, David also displays his own deft writing skills with notable originals, including 'Chelsea Girl'.
'Labyrinth' is TSO's first album of individual, unconnected songs, the 14-track set is knit together by the serious underpinning of the songs, whether it's the sweeping overview of humanity on 'Time & Distance', the concerns of world banking irregularities on 'Not Dead Yet', the anti-bullying message of 'Not The Same' (which O'Neill co-wrote with his daughter) or the learn-from-the-past studies of 'Prince Igor and 'King Rurik'. In some ways it's a straight ahead album, and in some ways it's not. It's blatantly out of the box more music-driven as opposed to story- and music-driven. The world is a mess right now, so 'Letters From the Labyrinth' examines some of the problems we're facing now. You can enjoy them as songs, but they're there to make you think.
Manufacturer: SONY MASTERWORKS
Brand: Sony Classics
Certified platinum. "One of the year's best"- New York Post. Includes Just Wave Hello; Summertime; Lullaby; The Last Rose Of Summer; Songs My Mother Taught Me. To judge by the impassioned responses to her debut album Voice of an Angel, Charlotte Church has already set extraordinary expectations for any follow-up. After all, the vocal phenomenon from Cardiff, Wales, took up a place in The Guinness Book of Records as the youngest artist ever--at the tender age of 12--to have an album attaining No.Â 1 status on the classical charts. This self-titled second release will continue to delight the highly gifted singer's legions of fans, and also contains some surprises for them. Church here tries out classical repertory with Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" and the "Jewel Song"--her pure and high-flying voice showing an amazing agility. There is great warmth in a couple of sacred songs, as well as the traditional Irish "She Moved Through the Fair." Church's vocal color--almost like a boy soprano at times--brings something unique to Gershwin's "Summertime," while the first track--Danny Beckerman's Hallmark-ish "Just Wave Hello"--seems destined to become part of the music you can't avoid associating with the turn of the millennium. --Sarah Chin
When David Garrett wanted a title for his new album, he came straight to the point and called it Music. A former child prodigy of the classical world who signed to Deutsche Grammophon when he was only 13, he now provokes Garrett-mania among hordes of international fans with his spectacular fusions of rock and pop with symphonic or baroque traditions. To him, it's all music and all equally valid. 'I never stopped playing classical music,' he points out. 'But when you become really accomplished on the violin, you can literally do anything. It's just a matter of what you really want to do with music.'On the new album, David bridges the gap between classical, pop, rock, and R&B covering everything from Coldplay's 'Viva La Vida' to Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River' to classical favorites Beethoven's 'Scherzo' and Clementi's 'Sonatina.' The US version of the album also features an exclusive new track, 'Bring Me To Life' featuring Syd Duran.
Opera, The Ultimate Collection showcases Andrea Bocellis vibrant personal journey through the world of opera.The collection features the most popular tenor arias from well-known operas such as La Boheme, Tosca, La Traviata, Madame Butterfly and Romeo & Juliet.A brand new recording of the much celebrated Nessun Dorma! from Puccinis Turandot is included; a signature piece for Bocelli as it was for his mentor Luciano Pavarotti.The album draws on arias which inspired Andrea throughout his career, from his first memory of opera, Verdis La donna e mobile to his newest recording of the great aria Donna non vidi mai from Puccinis Manon Lescaut.Includes Andreas personal favorites from the masterpieces of Puccini and Verdi, as well as the very best of French opera, featuring arias by Massenet, Gounod and Bizet.Bocelli explains: The main objective of this type of album is to draw people closer to the opera, in particular, to the whole opera. So, I chose the tracks that are the most engaging the first time you listen to them. I hope I have made the right choice and it encourages people to discover more.The collection will be accompanied by a simultaneous release of the complete Manon Lescaut opera.Andrea Bocelli is the worlds biggest selling classical artist - 80 million records sold and counting.This recording is sure to become the go-to collection for fans wanting to hear their favorite tenor in the worlds most famous melodies.