News, Commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater, Dance & More
Dec 10, 2013 10:53 PM EST | Louise Burton
Just in time for the holidays, Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo has released Ave Maria on Sony Classical, a recording of sacred music that includes a duet with Jackie Evancho on "O Holy Night."
This song, perhaps the most operatic of Christmas carols, is a favorite of opera singers at this time of year. In this version, instead of a lyrical approach, Jackie Evancho opts for abruptly getting louder on the first few notes of her phrases, as if to inject this normally serene music with a sense of urgency.
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The effect is to give a restless, unsettled feel to this music, which was probably not their goal. Grigòlo also sings parts of the music in this style, but more tastefully and to a lesser degree than Evancho. The two seem stylistically mismatched; Jackie's style is more pop-influenced, while Grigòlo's is (as you might expect) traditionally operatic.
There is some question as to whether the two were even in the same place when they recorded the song. Arts commentator Norman Lebrecht writes "Vittorio, you can read in the credits, was recorded in Rome with the Chapel chorus and a production team led by the estimable ex-DG man Chris Alder. Jackie is recorded in Prague by Nick Patrick and William Hayward. The two tracks are apparently stitched together. The singers may never have met."
You can listen to the result below:
The album is billed as Grigòlo's "homage to sacred music and his formative years in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel." Grigòlo was a member of the legendary Sistine Chapel Choir, whose artistry is showcased on this album.
Grigòlo included this message to his fans: "I want to let people know where I come from and to share something of my history with them. It's a tribute to all the people who helped me, to the hours we spent studying and practicing in those little rooms inside the chapel, and to the incredible music we sang together."
It is unclear how including Evancho on this album fits in with his Sistine Chapel homage. But the rest of the album does feature Grigòlo and the famous choir singing sacred music, much of it written by Italian composers. There are four different versions of "Ave Maria" alone, by four different composers including Giulio Caccini, Domenico Bartolucci, Giovanni Maria Catena and (non-Italian) Franz Schubert.
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