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This mesmerizing soprano shines in Vienna.

Music Review: Sarah Brightman – Symphony: Live In Vienna

I may be an old rock ‘n’ roller, but let me say that very few people on this earth can sing as well as Sarah Brightman. Her high soprano voice has a purity to it that is mesmerizing. When you combine that voice with her ability to entertain, you have one of the more unique and brilliant performers working today.

She has been one of the few classical artists to have crossover appeal. Performing pop songs and starring in plays broadened her fan base and made her a major musical figure in many parts of the world. She has now collected over 150 gold and platinum sales awards in 34 different countries.

2009 finds her releasing Symphony: Live In Vienna. It is a DVD/CD presentation of her 2008 PBS special that was recorded in January of that year and initially broadcast in March. Recorded at Stephansdom Cathedral, which was built in 1147, it is a perfect setting for a performance by Brightman.

She is accompanied by a rock band and a full orchestra, which provide an energetic and lush background for her passionate vocals. She also sings a number of duets with such artists as Italian tenor Alessandro Safina, Argentinean Fernando Lima, and Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

While I’m happy that the music has been released in both CD and DVD form in the same package, Sarah Brightman is one of the few artists I prefer to watch rather than just listen to. The performance is such an important part of her art that she makes a much deeper and emotional impact visually.

“Pie Jesu” leads off the concert and establishes the mood and tone for what will follow. Surrounded by the light of hundreds of candles and the grandeur of the cathedral’s gothic architecture, she simply sings against the background of the orchestra dominated by the strings.

“Fleurs Du Mal” is one of those over the top productions that works. Rock guitars and drums meld with a full orchestra and a choir joins in on the chorus. Her voice floats about it all on in a memorable performance.

“Sarai Qui,” with Safina, is the best of the duets. They both have the experience not to overpower each other. They relate easily and her experience on the stage serves her well.

“Running” is a tremendously unique type of performance. Think of a classic soprano fronting a rock band. While the orchestra ultimately pushes it in a gentler direction, it remains a creative fusion of classical and rock music.

Symphony: Live In Vienna is a visual and audio delight. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back, and prepare yourself to be transported to a different world.

About David Bowling

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