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A personal review of So Strong

from Gertraut, Austria

 

Actually, I don't want to call this a CD-review, I'd rather give it the name "write-up". And being totally unaware that it was not even available over here, I simply ordered it last summer and after 2  weeks it came “ God knows where from! So I am a little beforehand in listening to the CD "So Strong" “ as well as I was behindhand in listening to the CD "The Celtic Tenors". This one became known to me only 3 weeks earlier and I was enchanted. Well and then I started some tentative and soon more and more attentive listening.

 

The first song "Nella Fantasia" “ is pure musical beauty, you can follow the Tenors# voices one by one through the intricate web of the music and the wonderful lyrics. The Vard Sisters' voices complete this song in a lovely way.

 

Next comes "Mull of Kintyre" all of us know it, it was one of the hallmarks from The Beatles but I must say that the voices of the Celtic Tenors top those of the Fabulous Four by far!

 

And then comes "Love of my life" “ this song has a heartbreaking beauty and deeply moving lyrics. Niall Morris is outstanding suitable to interpret it. Never would I have thought that Freddy Mercury could have written a song in such a beatuy and so much grief in it. Still being eager to learn  maybe I should hear "Queen" now and then?

 

Following this is a "Ave Maria", whose lyrics are perfectly known to anyone who knows the Ave from Bach Gounod and so you can quickly concentrate on the music. These three singers perform it in a restrained way that suits the lyrics and the music admirably.

 

And then the repertoire changes again to a soloist, James Nelson in "The Green Fields of France". This is nothing else but a desperate accusation against that terrible practise of mankind to kill each other from time to time under the pretext of a "necessary war". So James' question if all these soldiers really knew why they did have to die (pro patria, what does that mean?) and if they really belived that this would be the last war to be fought has “ sorry to say “ today the same weight as in 1916. And how James Nelson has sung it has moved me deeply.

 

Following suit is "Ag Crí­ost an sí­ol". It is sung a capella which suits the solemn music of Séan ó Riada and the gaelic lyrics (a little information about it is to be found in the booklet attached to the CD) very good.

 

Next comes "Fionnghuala" again without accompaniment. This song captivates already by the fact that the Tenors never get stuck during their recital (they are even able to increase their tempo, I heard and saw them in a video-recording).

This leads to a song by the admirable Irish Songwriter Phil Coulter “ "The town I loved so well". This song about the deep longing in all of us to be allowed to live peacefully in our hometown is done in a narrative style by James, Niall and Matthew and colminates into an impassioned hope of peace. It hurts quite a lot to listen to it!

 

And with that I move on to the song "I will wait for you" and there it is getting a little difficult for me, as this is the only song on the CD to which I have no access yet. The music has its beauty, the lyrics also and it is sung beautifully.... maybe I have not heard it often enough yet?

 

Let's go along to the next one (Something Inside) So Strong, that's given its name to the CD. It is certainly very unsusual for a Tenors' repertoire. I like it very much and it does pay off to listen carefully to the lyrics. Facing political unfair systems and still to be brave will unfortunately always have to rate highly in this our world. but pleasurable was it for me to find out how these three so different performers would approach the rhythm of this song; they did cope with it in an admirable way! Maybe it agrees best with the voice of Matthew Gilsenan.

 

Then comes "The Contender". You will find that this solo-song agrees with the voice of Matthew in full. He tackles in a thoughtful way this ballad about a well known Irish singer, his rise to fame and his downfall. It could be a recordning from a live concert. I think James and Niall are singing in the background. It is very touching and leads to "A love so beautiful". This tune has for my ears a special beauty. In this song these three different beautiful voices are brought out in an outstanding way. the lyrics are brief, quickly understood, so you can concentrate on the marvellous music.

 

Well, then follows "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from a Lehár-Operetta. And “ being Viennese myself “ I just sat there at first and said "oh" I do not have to listen carefully to the text as I know it by heart. And to do justice to its treatment by the Celtic Tenors, I must admit that I never heard it sung like this. I own a recording by Wunderlich, Domingo etc. but I never heard it sung by a threesome. Somehow it sounds tamed that way but I enjoy that there is something familar on this CD for me and I sing along with it sometimes....

(Don't think a fourth voice will disturb?)

 

"The Star of the County down" comes next and it will carry you along with its rhythem and if you have seen the "Irish Evening" you'll remembre the enchanting maid tap-dancing through the music and the passages of the different singers...

Coming to the next to last piece on this CD. It is the "Adagio" by Samuel Barber, sung without words and a capella. So far I only knew it as a "Agnus Dei" for choirs. Ever tried to vary a musical theme for six voices without getting it wrong? Of course these three accomplished Tenors have routine, but I am really impressed by this adaption.

 

And this leads to the overwhelming last track on this CD, "Anthem" from the Musical Chess. An this beautiyfully done song brings you back with its breathtaking music to the beginning of this CD. A line from its lyrics says "and you ask me why I love her"... So let me take these lines as a motto and say "if you ask me why I love this CD it's the wide range of music offered to the listener and the interpretation by the Celtic Tenors!" Many thanks for this!