Image © Tula Records 2007
More Miriam Stockley:
Adiemus The Eternal Knot
Alkaemy The Merlin Mystery
(12 February 2007) In recent years, many "crossover" artists have made albums containing songs that are actually based on classical compositions, either by adding lyrics or rewriting them and making some arrangements to the original compositions. Often this kind of an approach means taking conscious risks and unfortunately, sometimes the result does not sound as good nor as cohesive as one would have thought. However, when listening to Eternal (Tula Records (UK/USA), 2007), the brand new and long-awaited third solo album by Miriam Stockley, such fears can be completely forgotten! To celebrate the release of this new album, Miriam has launched an all new website.
On Eternal, Miriam is supported by a wonderful team of well-chosen music professionals who really know how to avoid the clichés that usually are present when old material is being renewed. This time the main starting point has been to include music that was composed in the period of what is generally known as the romantic period--Debussy, Beethoven and Chopin--or otherwise associated with romanticism. Of course there is a very wide cornucopia of pieces that could have made the final selection, but, when listening to the album, the pieces chosen indeed form a very cohesive and pleasant wholeness, never sounding dreary but fresh and new instead.
All the arrangements have been made with very good taste so that the core ideas of the original pieces have not been damaged in any way. Therefore, even those who are still hesitating to take the plunge into the fabulously rich world of classical music should have the courage to do so after they have listened to this kind of music. Of course there are, on the other hand, some purists out there who could sneer at this album, insisting that the changes made to the original music are too drastic or pop-ish. However, this is a brave and refreshing, new approach towards music which certainly gives new thoughts, not only for the team that has made the arrangements for the album but also for the listeners.
For example, who could have thought in the first place how well the African flavours could blend together with the original melodies of Bach's Bourrée re-entitled as "Nagana Ka Lona" on Eternal or Purcell's well-known "Rondeau" named "Hem Na Nkosi Bo" on the album? There is no bitter after-taste from these variations of the classical themes at all!
In addition to retaining the her African styling roots, Miriam has successfully taken also a step forward, including a new language to her repertoire--Italian. According to Miriam herself, it was her manager David Stopps who introduced Miriam to a great Italian lyricist, Mr. Alexander Macinante, and this collaboration really flourishes throughout the album. Alexander certainly is a real gem for the whole album project, and his lyrics really fit to each and every piece of music he has written lyrics for! The Italian language does not only suit well for the chosen pieces, it also suits Miriam extremely well.
A great example of this is the Italian rendition of one of the arias from Bizet's opera "Pearl Fishers", newly entitled as "Un Ricordo." On this particular track, Miriam joins forces with another Italian, tenor Alessandro Safina, whom she had met in 2000 while Alessandro was performing at the annual Nokia Night Of The Proms concert tour. The result of the collaboration between Mr. Safina and Miriam is, without doubt, breathtakingly stunning, as both Miriam's and Alessandro's voices blend together totally seamlessly like the finest silk.
Also, the great renditions of Palestrina's "Sicut Cervus", Elgar's Nimrod named "Quanta Vita", and the Irish traditional song "Star Of The County Down" deserve special mentions here, namely, it is great to notice once again how versatile Miriam's voice can be. Not forgetting, of course, the brilliant
choir of Ian Lynn's church, "St Michael and All Angels",
who assist Miriam very beautifully on some of these tracks. Some of Miriam's biggest fans might though wonder why "Nocturne," one of Miriam's previous pieces was re-recorded for this album, but, in fact, it only enhances the general mood on the album. Perhaps it fits even better on Eternal.
While more praise and more positive affirmations would lead to a write a review the length of a book, to summarize this all up, Eternal is a very stylish album featuring one of the finest female vocalists of our time joining forces with an extremely skillful team who really have all managed successfully to make music that really touches the listener from deep within--an incredible feat for any artist. The album is available through the "store" links at Miriam's website. Obviously one dream remains: hearing this aural silk live in concert, but in the meantime, the album itself proves to be a masterpiece!--Suvi Kaikkonen in Oulu, Finland