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CD Review

A Quiet Thing

Songs for Voice & Guitar

  • Songs by Kander, Wilder, Bernstein, Arlen, Torre, Anchieta, Mena, Dowland, Purcell, Bellini, Bach/Gounod, Schubert, Foster, Martini, and 'Anon'
David Daniels, countertenor
Craig Ogden, guitar
Virgin Classics 45601-2 DDD 64:16
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This is just like a Kathleen Battle recital, except without Battle! The repertoire ranges from Spanish songs from the Renaissance to excerpts from what is sometimes called the "Great American Songbook." It takes a special performer to have John Dowland rubbing elbows with Harold Arlen. In the booklet note, David Daniels expresses his longing to do the unexpected. A countertenor singing "Come again, sweet love" with lute accompaniment doesn't raise eyebrows, but there's little historical precedent for one singing "My Shining Hour." (It should be noted that countertenor Jeffrey Dooley did an entire Stephen Foster CD – with harpsichord and Baroque instruments! – a few years ago.)

Daniels "wanted everything on this disc to be very personal and intimate." That it is. This CD is for private listening, not for a scholarly dissertation on changing vocal styles from the 1400s until today. Daniels and Ogden apparently aren't as interested in contrast as they are in mood; Alec Wilder's "Blackberry Winter" and Dowland's "Flow, my tears" are nearly two peas in a pod here.

David Daniels has a remarkable voice. He is one of the few countertenors who sounds neither freakish nor effete as he moves into the vocal stratosphere, and his voice remains masculine, solid, and even in tonal quality, no matter how high or low he sings. Although, this recital doesn't give him an opportunity to demonstrate his incredible agility, the excellence of his technique is obvious. His interpretations are sensitive, but again, the repertoire doesn't give him a lot of room in which to breathe. Craig Ogden's small-scaled and tasteful accompaniments complement Daniels's voice. In passing, Daniels's booklet notes mention that Ogden transcribed the modern songs for guitar, an achievement for which he should have received more credit.

The booklet contains texts and, where needed, English translations. The intimate engineering warms both of the performers.

Copyright © 2003, Raymond Tuttle