Bryn Terfel's voice is a phenomenon, and I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it in my lifetime; these kinds of voices only come along once in a generation or so. The burnished timbre, richness, colossal power, immaculate breath control, and sheer beauty all combine in an instrument that is peerless among bass-baritones today. Add to that his exceptional sensitivity to text and meaning, and his impeccable musicianship--both of which seem to be enhanced further with age and experience--and pretty much anything Terfel sings is a gem. Put him in company with the iconic Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and it's pure magic.
Comparisons are bound to arise between this album and Terfel's *Simple Gifts* from eight years ago. The repertory traverses the same wide-ranging territory (including some overlaps of song choice) from sacred to secular, old to new, classical to traditional. Here the choir is featured more prominently than the London Voices were on the earlier CD, but otherwise the album concept is similar. That said, I think the current album is much more successful, and the elevation of the choir to an equal partner with the soloist lends more variety to the repertory--the choir isn't there just to sing pretty "back-up" vocals. There are no cringe-worthy collaborations or cloying pop songs to skip over on this album. And I think the quality of performance across the board--soloists, choir, orchestra--surpasses the earlier album.
Terfel applies his lieder chops here to everything he sings, giving as much nuance and attention to "Home on the Range" as he does to Handel or Fauré. That's an artist who has owned his musicianship, and doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. Every track is impeccably sung. Bravissimo, Bryn.
And a heads-up to those who haven't heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir recently... it's not your grandmother's choir. I've been following the aesthetic direction this choir has taken over the last ten years, and suspect the current album will only augment its reputation as one of the finest choirs in the world today. It is a large group--360 singers--and yet on this album the choir sings with the clarity of tone, precision, and intimacy of a small, professional chamber ensemble. It is scrupulously in-tune and matched in timbre throughout its range--a very carefully controlled sound. On the quieter tracks it holds back, keeping its potential sonic power in check: a lion waiting to roar. Then I hear the end of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" or the middle section of Fauré's "Libera me" from the Requiem, and melt in awe of what a very disciplined large choir can do when it pulls out all the stops. And they don't come any larger, or more disciplined, than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Finally, kudos to the guests that sing with Terfel. Sissel is luminous, as always. On the final track ("Give Me My Song") her singing is more ravishing than ever. And Tamara Mumford reveals a beautifully warm and sensitive mezzo-soprano voice in Karl Jenkins's "Ave verum corpus."
All-round, this album sets a new benchmark in choral/vocal excellence.
Bryn recorded this album with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. The selection of songs is somewhat eclectic, bringing together songs from diverse sources, but particularly from America, Wales and England.
The title track is not Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward bound, but Marta Keen's Homeward bound - a very different but also enjoyable song that I'd not heard before. It seems that this song is her most famous composition.
I am familiar with other versions in my music collection of What a wonderful world, How great thou art, Blow the wind southerly, Shenandoah (which Bryn previously recorded for Bryn, although the version here is different), Battle hymn of the republic, When the saints go marchin'in and Home on the range). I've also heard some of the other songs including Cwm Rhondda, but I'm not sure whether I own other versions of these songs, which is all the more reason to welcome their appearance here.
Despite my familiarity with most of the songs, Bryn's versions are very different from the versions I've heard before, especially Home on the range and How great thou art.. It is particularly interesting for me to hear these two songs, which I've often heard by country singers, but it's nice to hear such a contrast as I find here. Sissel (on two songs) and Tamara Mumford provide guest femal vocals.
A few songs are sung wholly or partly in languages other than English, but the booklet contains full lyrics of all songs includuding English translations where applicable. The album ends with Give me a song, a song I've never heard before, but which was written by a composer (Benny Andersson, once of Abba) who is very familiar to me. It set me thinking that if there is one Abba song that could have worked well here - The way old friends do. Stll, I like Give me a son, which is a great way to end an album that came full of surprises, but very well done.
I might be slightly biased here being Welsh but this is a fantastic album of Welsh songs Bryn terfel has one of those voices that you can listen to continuously as he and the choir melt your heart I would highly recommend this. And the choir is like being in heaven absolutely fantastic.
Homeward Bound, the latest release on CD from Bryn Terfel and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, brings together these two musical greats which produce a most pleasing sound that no doubt stems from their mutual Welsh heritage.
The result is an eclectic mix of songs, hymns and popular American folk tunes/sea shanties with a touch of the spiritual and the Operatic pleasantly blending together.
Bryn puts everything into this album with fine and clear enunciation as one would expect from such a top quality Operatic Baritone of world renown. Whilst MoTab under the baton of their brilliant and equally world renowned Choral Director, Mack Wilberg, brings a sweet and gentle quality to this recording. There is probably something to please everyone on this CD. Old favourites such as How Great Thou Art, Cwm Rhondda sung in Welsh and English, Shall We Gather At The River, a new gentler arrangement of the Battle Hymn of The Republic from Mack Wilberg, and my particular favourite, Lascia Ch'io Pianga from Rinaldo by Handel. Also appearing on this recording are the sweet voices of Sissel the Norwegian soprano, probably best known for the Titanic film soundtrack recording and Tamara Mumford the American Mezzo- soprano whose qualities can be heard on track 10 of this album with the Ave Verum Corpus.
Over 78 minutes of beautiful music recorded and engineered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle by Deutsche Grammophon. Well worth buying for yourself or with Christmas just round the corner, as a present for loved ones.
Sometimes an idea comes along that performers, great in their own right, might be even better together often because they try to outdo each other. It does not always work but in this case it does thanks largely to the fact that they seem to have enjoyed working together which must have made it easier for Wilberg to keep them working as one. It comes across. Both the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Bryn Terfel could easily hold their own with these pieces that, it has to be said, are not especially difficult for performers of their experience. Where it really works is where, if you listen to the choir on their own you may sometimes think that a different arrangement might be possible if there was just a good enough solo voice to carry it off. Well, they are here. Although Bryn gets the lions share of the solo voice, Sissel and Tamara Mumford also get their chance to perform. I would give six stars if Sissel had been given more scope. If she was going to be on the recording anyway why not allow one of the finest and most versatile female voices of our time to contribute more. Sissel is so much more than Titanic. If you don't know her listen to Northern Lights as an introduction then explore her other work.