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Villazón, La Strada: Impressive and rather lovely
on 15 June 2011
I start from the position of someone who has never been fond of crossover music. In the past I have found that the operatic voice bullies the lighter song and, in the process, does neither the voice nor the song any favours. So, when I bought this it was an experimental purchase, a punt. I have always enjoyed Villazón's voice and so got the cd because of his recording history.
This cd is like no other crossover project I've ever heard. Villazón has done what so many of his operatic peers fail to do: he has honoured the music he's singing and its idiom. Of course it's his voice (a sure guarantee of quality), vital, virile and full of his usual excitement... but his voice responds to the songs with elegance, imagination and (this is key to the success of La Strada) with touching restraint. Because of the quiet that he allows, the drama of the songs is real. (Of course, Villazón knows well how to do drama!) It's subtle, it's full of musicality and grace, and it works beautifully.
Stand out tracks: Windmills of Your Mind, Al otro lada del rio and A Piece of Sky. I think my favourite at present, though, is The Summer Knows.