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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Andrea Bocelli - The Classical Collection' [7CD]
Artist - Andrea Bocelli

For those not in the know, Andrea Bocelli is an Italian singer, songwriter, and record producer. Indeed, Celine Dion has said that "If God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli," and David Foster, a record producer, often describes Bocelli's voice as the most beautiful in the world.

Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums of both pop and classical music, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide.

He has had success as a crossover performer, bringing classical music to the top of international pop charts.

He was born with poor eyesight and became completely blind at age 12, following a football accident.

In 1998, Bocelli was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People and in 1999, he was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards.

"The Prayer" is his duet with Celine Dion for the animated film Quest for Camelot which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

He captured a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records with the release of his classical album Sacred Arias, as he simultaneously held the top three positions on the US Classical Albums charts.

Bocelli was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2006 and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 2 March 2010 for his contribution to Live Theater.

The Bocelli phenomenon, supported by huge sales of 90 million records, is unstoppable. Now six of his landmark ‘Classical’ albums have been newly remastered alongside a seventh album of rarities and outtakes, including never before released material.

All 7 albums are also being made available together for the first time in one deluxe and limited edition boxed-set as The Classical Collection - 7 Definitive Albums via Universal Music Group.

1. Viaggio Italiano (1995)
2. Aria: The Opera Album (1998)
3. Sacred Arias (1999)
4. Verdi (2000)
5. Sentimento (2002)
6. Incanto (2008)
7. Rarities

His first “classical” recording (1997) entitled Viaggio Italiano was a Caterina Caselli Sugar project undertaken with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra: spanning Puccini to Schubert, Verdi to Donizzetti.

This album, from the first composition to the last, is beautiful to listen at any time of the day. Mainly because Bocelli gives us his unique interpretation of the works, his gratitude specially to Franco Corelli is thoughtful and dedicated, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

While lacking the vocal strength and technique of a more accomplished tenor, Bocelli instead emphasizes a solid, pleasing tone and more importantly: appropriate and tasteful phrasing with clear pronunciation (no over-indulgent vocal gestures).

This is why I think "Nessun Dorma" here stands up well to many other versions. Impressive also is "Una Furtiva Lagrima", in which some unexpected changes in color and texture make for some touching moments; and contrary to what a lot of others have said over the years, Bocelli performs well in these arias.

Indeed, they are by no means beyond his abilities nor are they pieces that don't fit his style. Although, that is all my own humble opinion, of course.

1998 saw the release of Aria: The Opera Album, with the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino directed by Gianandrea Noseda.

Bocelli does not take the easy path with this album. Although there are familiar pieces, there are also some fairly rare ones, arias that present a challenge. And he acquits himself admirably, especially in the Strauss and Donizetti.

At times, he is a little "interpretive," but then so were Callas and Corelli. But the voice is solid, top to bottom; the technique is there, albiet still evolving and improving; and the timing is essentially solid, though not always exactly according to the score.

The dawn of the new millennium, was marked by a recording of Sacred Arias with the Orchestra and Choir of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia conducted by Myung-Whun Chung: a project which remains one of his most shining artistic productions and the best-selling classical album ever released by a solo artist.

I mean, what more can be said about this wondrous album that hasn't alrady down the years. Bocelli's performance is simply amazing and Lorin Maazel adds a rather delightful touch with the violin. My particular favorite is track 3, "Barcarolle," but if you enjoy Arias, in general, especially romantic ones, this entire album is going to make you decade.

Under the baton of Zubin Mehta, the start of the millennium celebrated the release of the Verdi album. Here Bocelli sings each aria as it was written, and meant to be sung; with beauty and passion.

He feels each word he sings, and conveys that feeling to the listener. From the quiet beauty of "Ah se, ben mio" to his rousing rendition of "Celest Aida".

I mean, how many opera singers do you hear drop an entire octave from one phrase to the next, as Bocelli does in "Io la vidi e il suo sorriso" with exquisite perfection? If you want to hear opera sung by someone who loves it as much as the person who composed it, this is the album for you.

In the autumn of 2002, Andrea Bocelli combined his energies once more with those of Lorin Maazel, with whom he undertook a very special recording project, Sentimento; a collection of romantic pieces by composers such as Tosti, Denza and Gastaldon, arranged for the orchestra by Maazel, who also accompanied Bocelli on violin.

The project was an enormous success earning Andrea a double nomination at the 2003 Classical Brit Awards, where he won both Album of the Year and Best-Selling Classical Album of the Year.

Sweet, stirring violins, Bocelli's beautiful voice soaring effortlessly as he holds note after note to perfection, Sentimento is a wonderfully realized collection of romantic arias that sweeps us along into that mystical place we all need to be at times; a place of beauty and timelessness, where romance and sentiment seem ever so right and where the cares and worries of the world are nudged ever so gently into the background.

So, if you have a heart of stone, you might not like this one, but to the rest of us, this is a work of art!

Then in 2008, a new album Incanto was a sell-out success also. Incanto is an album of classic Italian love songs and are many songs that Andrea has loved since childhood and most of us are familiar with.

These songs were made famous by the great tenors of the 19th and 20th centuries and the album features a selection that includes: "Mamma," "O Surdato 'Nnammurato," "Era 'e Maggio," "Un Amore Così Grande (feat. Veronica Berti], and amongst others, both "Non Ti Scordar Di Me" and the always delightful to hear, "Funiculì Funiculà."

Personally, I love the inclusion of "Because," which I have heard Andrea sing live many times as it is the best version since Mario Lanza; and, believe it or not, Bocelli hits an even higher end note!

The seventh album, Rarities brings forth a well accumulated collection of, well, rarities and outtakes from Bocelli and as much as they are, for the most part, as close to perfect (to my ears) as only he can ensure them to be, I'm sure the more avid of Bocelli fans will determine their true wealth.

As I'm sure most all of you are well aware by now, Bocelli is blessed with timbre as recognizable as a signature, full and powerful, with a versatility ranging from the belcanto to the furore of verismo, from the sacred repertoire to popular ballads; and possesses an extraordinary and unique sensibility which transforms and transcends boundaries, causing him to excel in his interpretation of the lyrics, in his perception of the subtleties of musical expression.

Amazon Purchase Link