La Luna

Sarah Brightman

Angel Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Through twenty-plus years of recording, English soprano Sarah Brightman has done her best to counter any attempts to cubbyhole her talents. From pop group to Andrew Lloyd Webber's favorite diva to classical duets with Placido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli, Brightman has had enough different career options for any five musicians. She presents a music reviewer with a significant challenge, because it's impossible to review her work in context; how do you compare 1993's Divemy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 (wherein Madame Sarah out-Kate-Bush's Kate Bush) to her vocals on Lloyd-Webber's Requiem? Might as well be different artists, and indeed in many ways they are.

Brightman's career can be divided into two parts, with a neat terminus of 1990. After ten years of Lloyd-Webber's musicals, she broke with him and teamed up with Enigma producer Frank Peterson, and began her career in what can only be called "Classical Crossover" music; a fusion of classical, folk, dance, and pop styles that results in some of the most enigmatic, risk-taking, and ground-breaking vocal work currently being recorded.

La Luna is the latest in Brightman's experimentations. With vocal selections ranging from Handel and Rachmaninov to Procol Harum, this is Sarah singing whatever Sarah wants to sing, trying to break down artificial barriers and walls.

Does it work? Mostly. Sometimes. Maybe. Depends on your tastes. Sarah Brightman is like sea urchin roe or Limburger cheese; it ain't for everyone, but its fans are loyal and virulent.

What works: anytime styles fuse. The guitar-laced version of "Scarborough Fair" is a keeper, as is the precise, waltz-driven "Hijo de la Luna" and the odd, simple elegance of "He Doesn't See Me". "Gloomy Sunday" and "Here With Me" are triumphant, brilliant, and perfect for Brightman's scalpel of a soprano.

What doesn't work: surprisingly, 'straight' renditions. Rachmaninov's "How Fair This Place" limps, really only saved by its short length. And next time Rhino Records puts out a new Golden Throats CD, they should really dicker with Angel Records for the rights to Brightman's cover of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade Of Pale". My momma told me to not to say anything if you can't say anything nice, so I'm not saying anything.

Overall, though, you buy Sarah Brightman CDs for the same reason you watch soap operas; the sheer fascination at wondering what in the gods' name they can come up with next. In that, La Luna delivers. Say what you will about Diva Sarah, she's never dull.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Angel Records, and is used for informational purposes only.