A Quiet Thing - David Daniels / Craig Ogden

Full size album art
Label: EMI
Catalog: EMC45601C.2
Format: CD

David Daniels (Countertenor), Craig Ogden (Guitar)

On this record, David Daniels, one of our finest, most sought-after countertenors, adds a wide variety of styles, from Italian bel canto, popular classics, and American art- and folksongs to his signature Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. He appears to be equally at home in all of them, naturally adapting his vocalism, phrasing, diction, and delivery to each idiom, while his uniquely beautiful voice retains its pure, floating quality and intense expressiveness. His astonishing breath control lets him spin and sustain endless phrases; his middle range is dark and warm, his top bright and radiant. (Hearing those ringing E-flats, Es and Fs from a male voice never ceases to surprise.) The program seems aimed at including something for everybody, but reversing the usual route, arrives at the European 15th century by way of the American 20th, opening with John Kander's title song and songs by Alec Wilder, Harold Arlen, and Leonard Bernstein, who is represented by the frighteningly contemporary anti-war protest "So Pretty" and a song from "Mass." Three beautiful Spanish Renaissance songs and three famous English songs by Dowland and Purcell are followed by three luxuriously romantic, intimately caressing ones by Bellini; the program ends with three popular favorites, two American, one French. The only false note is struck by two overly familiar versions of "Ave Maria": Gounod's, a skillful extraction of a fine melody from Bach's C-major Prelude (sung here in D-flat), and Schubert's, a setting of Ellen's prayer from Sir Walter Scott's "Lady of the Lake." Craig Ogden's otherwise excellent guitar arrangements of the original piano and lute accompaniments are less successful here; the texture is too thin to support and sustain the intensity of the music. --Edith Eisler

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