Renée Fleming – Broadway
BBC Concert Orchestra
Rob Fisher, conductor
Decca, 2018Buy from Amazon
It seems that world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming’s versatility knows no limits. After Distant Light (including songs by Barber, Hillborg and Björk), a Christmas jazz album (Christmas in New York) and a pop-rock album (Dark Hope), this time the American soprano presents her personal collection of Broadway songs. This album testifies Fleming’s lifelong passion for Broadway, dating to her school years, when she sang twice Eliza Doolittle. It is significant that Broadway was announced while Fleming was still singing Nettie Fowler in Carousel, her second Broadway engagement after her debut in Living on Love in 2015. For Carousel, Fleming received ample critical acclaim and her first Tony nomination. To quote the singer’s own words, she thinks that this genre is «a living art form, enjoying a real boom right now, and it was a thrill for me to be able to include phenomenal songs that are absolutely current».
As Christmas in New York, Broadway too features a roster of guest stars as jazz bassist Christian McBride, pianist Dan Tepfer, and jazz drummer Carl Allen. The songs are taken from works by outstanding composers of the calibre of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Adam Guettel and many others.
Fleming really enjoys singing these songs and her high spirit is evident, infectious throughout the entire album. The accompaniment is rich and lush, brilliantly played by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Rob Fisher and Fleming’s voice shines with naturalness. There is a constant joy of joy and confidence in her singing. Her voice is bright and shimmering, especially in a lovely piece as The Sound of Music. Only from time to time you recognize in her an opera singer, for some habits than cannot be concealed (particularly in Something Wonderful), but never to the point that she appears out of place.
On the contrary, her smooth voice, with its creamy timbre, suits marvellously the songs she has chosen, while her sensitivity is equal to her frankness. Her performance is always emotional, as in the wonderful Unusual Way. Fleming elegantly caresses her high notes, while her clear pronunciation is characterized by softness rather than marked accents, as in Loneliness of Evening with its tender laziness. While all the words are perfectly understandable thanks to her clear diction, Fleming prefers to use them to give a general idea rather than to express a specific concept, so that her singing is like a fluid and polished flowing.Buy from Amazon