Image © 2000
Virgin Records Ltd
(22 January 2001) The second album by Isobel "Izzy" Cooper
is entitled Ascolta (Virgin Records (UK) CDVE 951, 2000). The
artist's debut album Libera Me soared to the top of the classical
charts in early 2000 (review). Izzy's
success led to a label change from Decca to Virgin Venture who are paying
a lot closer attention to the artist. Stylistically similar to Emma
Shapplin, Sarah Brightman, Filippa Giordano and Charlotte Church, the new
album continues to explore the reaches of classical-contemporary crossover
musical territories. The artist's official
website is full of useful
information, an insightful interview, additional photos and
Now 25, Izzy began her love affair with music at
the age of four. It was then that she picked up her first musical
instrument, the recorder, and five years later she had worked through the
entire recorder family and also began learning the piano, clarinet and
flute. But it was her school choirmaster who spotted her vocal potential
at the age of nine, which was to prove a turning point in her musical
career. Under his nurturing hand,Izzy went on to gain a place at a
specialist Arts Educational School, where she studied music, drama and
dance but it was as a singer that she
began to emerge.
Whilst still a student, Izzy was spotted and signed by
Decca Records and found herself recording with the London Symphony
Orchestra and leading producer Craig Leon, who had a track record of
working with both classical and pop artists. Libera Me was
recorded at Abbey Road Studios—a world away from Izzy's day job at
the Virgin Megastore—and was a carefully crafted mixture of classical
compositions and co-written original pieces setting the tone of her
distinct style of rich tones and finels woven harmonies. It reached
the No 1 spot in the classical charts within weeks of release and launched
Izzy into the spotlight. Izzy was nominated at Best Female Artist in
the inaugural Classical BRIT Awards and chosen to present Bryn Terfel
with the Best Male Artist Award.
Again teamed with Craig Leon, the team began working on
Izzy's second album at Abbey Road Studios after pouring over hundreds
of different songs and arrangements before finalising the selection
for Ascolta. The album contains unique renditions of classical arias
by Doizetti, Borodin, Puccini, Dvorak, Bizet, Delibes, Monteverdi
and Sibelius. In addition to the stunning title track, "Signore Ascolta,"
Izzy incorporated her own versions of the Celtic "The Lost Lady Found,"
"Down By The Sally Garden," "Lumi Miei Cari" and "Going Home". We
especially enjoyed Izzy's multi-layered performance of the "Be Still
My Soul" hymn and "Song of our Homeland" sung to the famous Borodin
theme. Ascolta is certainly more richly produced than Libera
Me yet it is mixed with Izzy's vocals way up, the way Musical
Discoveries' readers prefer! Many of the tracks are recorded with
English lyrics as well.
"Recording the second album was a fantastic
experience, Izzy commented. "Not only did I have the support of a vibrant,
less traditional record company in Virgin Venture, but I also had the
confidence in working with Craig to record what I wanted to, regardless
of whether it was conventional or not. It is invigorating to take a song
or aria and be able to interpret it in completely your own way."
Izzy's albums are released in Europe however they remain
imports to the United States. You can find further reviews and order
Ascolta from amazon.co.uk
here. Artwork accompanying the new
compact disc incorporates stunning
photography hich can be sampled at
the artist's website.
Worthy of significant exploration and a trans-Atlantic journey, we
certainly think it is a must listen!