The French pop group Les Enfoires hosted a 2002 benefit concert, All in the Same Boat, to aid Restaurants of the Heart, a French advocacy organization that provides food, shelter, and culture for the homeless. This two-disc set is a live recording of the event.
Other European pop stars contributing to the effort include Zazie, MC Solaar, Maxime LeForrestier, and Laam.
Pert looks and pushup bra? Check. Throaty, pint-sized voice? Check.
Digital reverb, multi-tracking, and arrangements inspired by televised Olympics coverage? Check. Houston, we are "go" for Calculated Crossover! Not to malign crossover, mind you: though it's as far from the heart of classical music as Pat Boone's In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy was from hard rock, it is a distinct genre with a well-established audience base and a number of smartly branded, very bankable artists. The problem here is that, with her cookie-cutter debut La Diva (must we laud ourselves in Italian?), Katherine Jenkins makes no effort to carve out a niche for herself, instead offering uninspired, formulaic retreads of acts already on the market. If you've heard Charlotte Church, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, or Josh Groban, you've already heard this album (at times literally, as witnessed by the opening track "Time to Say Goodbye," made famous by Brightman and Bocelli), and for the most part you've heard it done more memorably. Though she is older than Church by a number of years, Jenkins' voice is no more developed or capable (though it is slightly more polished). She doesn't have the flashy high notes or wispy allure of Sarah Brightman, or any of the legitimate chops that made Andrea Bocelli the only crossover singer to actually cross over. But she has cover girl looks and a pleasant, mike-friendly voice, so she may indeed score a hit.In the obligatory "sung in a foreign language" category, Jenkins offers numbers in passable Italian, Spanish, and French. Her "O sole mio" has been drained of its Italian seasonings and omits the usual climactic high note; her sexless "Séguédilla" (often spelled Seguidilla) from Carmen takes its only moment of personality from an interpolated laugh that was obviously edited in. In the "famous piece of instrumental music turned into a song" category, she offers "En Aranjuez con tu amor," based on Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (for guitar and orchestra). Batting cleanup in the "inspirational" category, both John Williams' "Hymn to the Fallen" (from the film Saving Private Ryan) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" will have you reaching for your snare drum.
Jenkins comes across best in "Calon Lan," sung in her native Welsh: there is a sense of expressive purpose and linguistic fluidity that is sorely missing from much of the rest of the album, and it makes for very pleasant listening. Mozart's mostly unmolested "Laudate Dominum" is similarly enjoyable for its simplicity and faithfulness to its original form.
More and more, Schubert's Schwanengesang (D. 957) isn't being treated with the respect due to a proper song cycle. And that's because Schwanengesang isn't a proper song cycle.
Schubert never thought about it as a cycle: to him, they were songs setting poems by three different poets: Seidel, Rellstab, and Heine. It was his publisher's idea to group them all together as Schubert's posthumous Schwanengesang and thereby boost sheet music sales. These days, Schubert's Schwanengesang is a cycle in name only and singers feel free to group its songs as they would any set of Schubert songs. Danish baritone Boje Skovhus has grouped them by poet, a procedure that works wonderfully well as it preserves the order of the songs as Schubert's publisher arranged them.
It adds four Seidel songs to Die Taubenpost, thereby filling out the listener's sense of Schubert's settings of the poets. It works less well for Skovhus. A pleasant voice and an intelligent interpreter, Skovhus is perfectly adequate for the Seidel and Rellstab songs; indeed, Standchen is quite seductive with its rounded phrases and smooth delivery. But Skovhus is out of his element in the Heine songs; the agonies and ecstasies and the heights and depths of Schubert's great songs are beyond his abilities to interpret effectively.
This is great grouping, swell Seidel, dandy Rellstab, and mediocre Heine.