In the 10 years since the release of Russell Watson’s first album, The Voice, the tenor’s name has regularly been in the headlines – sadly, most recently over a life-threatening tumor. Now recovered, he here makes a welcome return to the recording studio for his ninth long-player.
Watson’s voice is now stronger, and he has a richness and vibrancy throughout his range. This is heard at its best in the first song, Parla Piu Piano (Love Theme from The Godfather), with words set in Italian. As the album’s title suggests, many of the tracks are sung in Italian, or have an Italian connection. Watson adapts his voice to suit the different styles – in this respect his adaptability is reminiscent of José Carreras.
Much ink has been spilled as to Watson’s credentials as an opera singer, and tellingly he includes just one operatic number here, an adaptation of the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana. Other adaptations from the classics include Adagio, taken from what once was called Albinoni’s Adagio, and E Sara Cosi, a melody better known as the 18th of Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations; the latter, though, does not adapt well to a vocal.
Be My Love he sings in English, after Mario Lanza; though Lanza, one feels, would have gone for a retake on that final note. Watson’s quieter singing provides particular pleasure in the thoughtful Adagio, and is effective too in the gentle Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te), to the melody of Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Across these tastefully and attractively arranged songs (Arrivederci Roma is another highlight), Russell receives immaculate support from The Roma Sinfonietta and Coro, a small mixed chorus. The production values, too, are top-notch, which all makes for a very attractive package indeed.
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The tenor who practically invented the classical crossover genre stuns the world again with La Voce
. Recorded in June 2010 with the Roma Sinfonietta--Ennio Morricone’s orchestra of choice--and produced by Mike Hedges, Russell Watson’s voice has never sounded better. Stronger, more driven and powerful, his renditions of Pino Donaggio’s "Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)", Mario Lanza’s "Arrivederci Roma" and "Parla Piu Piano" (the theme from The Godfather) are as impressive as you’d expect from a man singing with, literally, a new lease of life after overcoming two life-threatening brain tumours.
In 2008, when the Salford born tenor finished radiotherapy for the pituitary tumor that saw him undergo emergency surgery, he decided to embark on a return to music. He soon found that his treatment had given him not just a fresh outlook on the world, but a whole new, deeper, richer voice. La Voce
is Watson’s ninth, and most personal, album.