Sartori, Shearman, S Wood, Saggese, Bach, Bizet,

COMPOSERS: Bach,Bizet,S Wood,Saggese,Sartori,Shearman
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Duetto
WORKS: Duets by Sartori, Shearman, S Wood, Saggese, Bach, Bizet,
PERFORMER: Marcelo Álvarez, Salvatore Licitra (tenor); Kühn Choir, City of Prague PO/Daniel May
CATALOGUE NO: SK 13058
Crossover time. Some of the tracks here have been arranged from the classics – Bach, Gounod, Fauré and Rachmaninov – and it’s remarkable how consistently the arrangers have been able to make sows’ ears out of each and every silk purse. The two items from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers (the Serenade and the Famous Duet) are more recognisable, but damaged goods even so. And since half the excitement of the duet is to savour the tensions between a tenor and a baritone voice singing in the same tessitura, giving it to two tenors completely destroys the point.

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The rest are slushy Latin pop songs that are extremely hard to tell apart, sounding like something served up at the Eurovision Song Contest around 1975 that scored nul points. As for the performances, two perfectly presentable operatic artists with better things to do end up sounding like Andrea Bocelli. Imagine Martha Argerich recording a selection of Russ Conway favourites and you’d have the pianistic equivalent. Why do singers abase themselves in this way? It can’t – surely – be for the money?

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The sound is appropriate to the material. The material is unspeakably gruesome. Don’t even buy it for a laugh. George Hall