CD Reviews Pop CD of the Week

The Birmingham Post (England), November 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

CD Reviews Pop CD of the Week


VARIOUS Across The Bridge Of Hope (in aid of the Omagh Fund): All (well most) charity CDs are worthy but some are more worthy than most and this collection, released just three months after the Omagh bombing, has as much a symbolic as a musical or cash-r aising function. Artists from both North and South of the great divide are represented, from U2, Ash and The Corrs to Daniel O'Donnell and Boyzone. Some tracks capture the overall sentiment of inclusiveness and reconciliation more than others of course, a new version of Van Morrison's The Healing Game, Paul Brady's The Island and a moving performance by the Omagh Community Choir of Across The Bridge of Hope, the title of a poem written by 12-year-old bomb victim Sean McLaughlin. Pick of the bunch howeve r is Sinead O'Connor's remarkable transformation of Abba's Chiquitita from sentimental slop to genuinely moving ballad - no mean feat.

JEWEL Spirit (EastWest): This Alaskan-born 24-year-old singer-songwriter sold ten million copies of her debut album Pieces of You which proves little except the benefits of having a strong marketing campaign behind you. Certainly the songs here do little to hold the attention being short on melodies and with lyrics that are painfully selbsorbed. Jewel's voice is also nothing special and, indeed, on the more up-tempo songs positively grates. It's only when she stops trying to impress, on the ballad Absce nce of Fear for instance, that Jewel begins to sound anything like convincing while the "additional" track, a duet between Jewel and her mom/manager on This Little Bird, is too precious for its own good. Which pretty well applies to the rest of the album as well. HH

Simon Evans

CLASSICAL CD OF THE WEEK

WAGNER Die Meistersinger (highlights) (EMI): If I were in the opera-house, listening to the Mastersingers overture played as it is here, I would be weeping in anticipation of the five-hour delights to come. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra plays with a glow, strings warmly phrased, the conductor combining generous lyricism with a keen structural grip.

And conducting is the great Rudolf Kempe, taken from us cruelly early (soon after he had assumed the principal conductorship of the BBC Symphony Orchestra), in this famous recording of Wagner's timeless comic masterpiece, originally released in 1958 and now digitally remastered with a wonderful sense of recorded perspective, available on a generous disc of highlights, generously priced.

Less generous is the insert, merely telling us the story, when it would have been helpful to learn something about the artists contributing to this unforgettable reading.

This is a tremendous cast, headed by the sympathetic Hans Sachs of Ferdinand Frantz, wise, abundant in feeling, and with a compelling artistry with words. Rudolf Schock's Walther is appropriately impetuous, Elisabeth Grummer a meltingly virginal Eva; oth er important roles bring such resonant mid-century names as Gottlob Frick (how nice to hear this normally sinisterly-cast bass as a goodie!), Benno Kusche, Gustav Neidlinger, Gerhard Unger, Marga Hoffgen and a young Hermann Prey. …

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