Mera has made several recordings for BIS, and probably will be known to most classical collectors for his work with the Bach Collegium Japan. His is one of the eeriest counter-tenor voices around. For minutes at a time it is entirely possible to forget that you are not listening to a woman, and on Precious, this effect is emphasized by Mera's choice of repertoire, which includes "Beauty and the Beast" (from the Disney movie of the same name) and "Some Day My Prince Will Come"!
Although this is being marketed as a Christmas CD, only "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," and "White Christmas" are specifically seasonal. Apart from the two mentioned above, Precious contains songs from Disney movies, classical American pop and Broadway (a medley of Hoagy Carmichael's "Star Dust" and "If I Loved You" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel), "How Great Thou Art," and other things I can't describe or classify. The arrangements are intimate (so as not to cover up Mera's voice, I suppose) and frequently jazzy, in a late-night sort of way. Discreet electronic stylings are added to give the CD a subtle 90s feel. Downtown Tokyo, here I come.
Mera pretty much opens up his mouth and lets his beautiful (and somewhat disembodied) sounds come out. When one has a voice like this, one doesn't need to interpret, I guess. I can't say enough about how pretty this all is, and how unusual. Everything is sung in English, but Mera doesn't always overcome the idiosyncrasies of pronunciation experienced by the Japanese. For example, "Christ" sometimes comes out as "Chlist." Somehow, this only adds to this CD's weird charm.
Precious would be an eyebrow-raising stocking-stuffer, but I think it would be very welcome to anyone who appreciates the sound of a counter-tenor. Mera may not be a remarkable singer, but he has a truly remarkable voice.
Copyright © 1999, Raymond Tuttle