Amore are marketed as an `Opera Group', so it is perhaps a little surprising to find that only a third of the tracks in `Stand Together' originate in operas. But what the track list may be lacking in inspiration is more than amply compensated by the passion brought to the performance, some unexpected arrangements and wonderful orchestral accompaniment to these four amazing voices.
Briefly, track by track:-
I love the hymn 'Abide With Me'; to the extent that, from an early age, people have assumed that I am a football fan because of it. (Nothing could be further from the truth.) Most recordings disappointingly have only two or three verses but here we are treated to five. Starting with a straight baritone solo for the first verse, the voices are added in with interweaving harmonies as the hymn progresses to a wonderful climax in the final verse.
Is 'Nella Fantasia' an overdone standard? Possibly, but the four voices in harmony bring a new dimension to this popular piece.
When I saw Amore live, the male voice harmony in the opening part of 'Ave Maria' gave me goosebumps. The recorded version is almost as good. The ladies get to join in later, together with an ethereal sounding choir.
Amore may be a quartet but the 'Flower Duet' really is a duet, with Monica's lovely soprano and Victoria's gorgeous mezzo voices combining in as good a version of this as I have heard.
Looking at the title 'Cantique De Jean Racine', I wouldn't have known what to expect, but actually I did recognize the theme. Rich harmonies abound in this slow contemplative number.
The men have their turn with 'The Pearl Fishers', giving the ladies a breather. I have heard richer versions from choirs, but this duet is still great.
I think I became bored with 'Amazing Grace' about forty years ago and I generally groan inwardly whenever I see the title in yet another collection. Even Hayley Westenra does little for me when singing this. But Amore's version is somehow different. Unusual harmonies and subtle changes to timing raise this above the humdrum.
A magnificent rendition of 'Here's To The Heroes' takes full advantage of the vocal range of the group.
'Barcarolle' flows along easily with the help of some sweeping instrumental arrangements. Whilst never mere background throughout the album, this is the only track where the orchestra threatens to outshine the vocals.
To me, 'Jerusalem' is a hymn for joining in rather than listening to. But if you have to keep your mouth shut, then Amore are a treat for the ears.
The stirring words of 'We Will Stand Together', set to Elgar's Nimrod, are perhaps somewhat contrived and need some concentration to follow, but it's still a wonderful tune in a majestic arrangement.
'Brindisi', the rousing drinking song, rounds off the album leaving you wanting more.
I like this album!