(04 July 2010) The popularity and strength of classical crossover music is continuing to grow on the heels of divas Sarah Brightman, Fillippa Giordano and Emma Shapplin. Nicola Jarvis has created a UK-based website dedicated to the genre that is drawing attention from many following these well known female artists and a bevy of others.
With published reviews of recordings by the three previouslly mentioned artists as well as Charlotte Church, Izzy (Cooper), Hayley Griffiths, Georgia Fumanti, Sasha Lazard, Sarena Paton, Sissel, Hayley Westenra and Yulia, Musical Discoveries plans reviews of even more emerging female vocalists performing classical crossover material in the coming months. Interviews with some of the artists are also planned.
Our classical crossover coverage resumes with a review of recordings by Phillippa Lusty, a rapidly emerging classically young woman from Cornwall. The classically trained artist is proficient in voice, piano and violin but today focuses on her vocal work. She aspires to work more with classical material and finds today that crossover draws her attention the most. Physically fit and living an active lifestyle with friends in the surf and gym, she also performs her music regularly before live audiences. Although she has not released any recordings at this writing, Phillippa shared her entire catalog with us in the run up to this article. Learn more about the artist in our exclusive interview with her.
A Guiding Light is the working title of Phillippa's debut album. We were provided fourteen songs spanning a little over 50 minutes to review, with nine from 2007 and five from 2010. The songs are not only performed extremely well, but their arrangements and production at this point are superb. Phillippa has an absolutely stunning and well-honed voice with superb power, clarity and range. Her singing style will immediately draw listeners as it is most accessible and, still developing, not traditionally operatic.
Pippa's "Guiding Light" and potentially title track has clear classical allusions and has won the artist numerous awards since first emerging in 2007. Vocal layers add to the orchestral arrangements providing the foundation for Pippa's soaring lead. Her stunning rendition of Richard M. Sherman's "Hushabye Mountain" from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical is delivered with crystalline clarity alongside rich arrangements by her accompanists.
Our collection continues with Pippa's soaring lead vocal and warm harmonies in the staccatto "Vanishing" and her performance of the theatrically styled track "Cinema Paradiso" originally written by Ennio Morricone. We especially appreciated Pippa's solo performance and the power of the vocal excursions performed in this famous love theme. Her producers and accompanists are to be congratulated on the track's recording. While many classical crossover performers provide their own rendition of "Ave Maria" on a debut or follow-up album, Pippa's version atop gentle piano and violin works especially well to illuminate her vocal prowess while not being operatically overpowering.
The sequence turns to Pippa's performance of the Gershwins' "Someone To Watch Over Me." Although it has since become a jazz standard, the it was written by the legendary composer George Gershwin for his 1926 Broadway production Oh, Kay! Pippa has created a superb perfrormance of the Arthur Hamilton jazz standard "Cry Me A River" sung atop piano. We especially appreciated the piano instrumental break in the track.
Pippa's recordings develop nicely into crossover, beginning with the song "How Do I Stop." While the theme has classical allusions, additional warmth and crossover accessibility arises from warm vocal layers and the verse chorus pattern. In the same vein, "Weight of the World" is an especially accessible and more upbeat track with a catchy chorus and lush arrangements. Pippa's lead and harmony vocals are crystalline, warm and sublime. Listen for the violin solo during the instrumental break.
The superb crossover track "Beautiful Secrets" is the first of the 2010 recordings in our sequence. Listeners will immediately hear additional maturity both in Pippa's vocal work and depth of the arrangements. Again drawing on classical themes, "Please Stay" continues to illustrate artistic growth in vocal performance, songwriting and depth of production. The vocal production on "Words Unspoken" is especially strong in that it highlights the range, power and clarity of Pippa's voice while providing depth to instrumental and harmony arrangements. The strength of the 2010 recordings is immediately evident from the first three of the five tracks.
"One Lonely Star" is a powerful vocal number sung atop piano with light strings in the background. Additional vocal layers provide just the right texture to complete the arrangement. The last track is a multi-layered vocal torch song entitled "Stranger." The vast range of crystalline vocal harmonies is not only a testament to the singer and songwriter but to her production and arrangement team.
We are going to hear a lot from Phillippa Lusty in the coming months and years. Clearly a stunning artist with tremendous talent, the young lady has plotted a path with a solid eductional foundation, a strong production team and the raw talent to make it as an independent artist. We can't wait for her debut album to hit the street. Bravo!