Songs and Arias by Gounod, Lehár, Massenet, Messager, Offenbach, O Straus, Weill et al
Fatma Said (soprano); Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra/Sascha Goetzel
Warner Classics 5419713921 64:51 mins
Following Fatma Said’s triumphant first album El Nour was never going to be easy, but Kaleidoscope traces an equally original, loosely chronological journey through song, opera, operetta, zarzuela, tango, jazz, swing, musical theatre and pop in a self-described ‘montage’, ending with Whitney Houston’s 1987 chart-topping ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’.
The first half leans heavily on dances from operas, accompanied by the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra. Pieces range from the familiar (Offenbach’s ‘Nuit d’amour’ with a well-matched Marianne Crebassa) to the obscure (Méssager’s La fiancée en loterie, anyone?). The orchestra under Sascha Goetzel is sometimes too polite for this often frivolous fare, and Said can sound correspondingly cautious, although her voice is always creamy and sweet-toned.
But caution is swept aside with some adorably silly Viennese waltzes, and Said’s versatility and flamboyance is unlocked in hits like Loewe’s ‘I could have danced all night’ and Berlin’s ‘Cheek to cheek’ which ends with a naughty giggle. A fuller, throatier sound emerges in ‘Youkali’, Weill’s gorgeous tango-habanera, as well as a tango with new Arabic lyrics. Said vaults effortlessly across stylistic boundaries, often via dazzling arrangements by her collaborator Tim Allhoff.
And that Whitney Houston track? Even diehard sceptics will be moved by this vulnerable rendition in a translucent arrangement.