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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Ave Maria Album... What a Good Idea!


Like most people, there are certain pieces of music that I can listen to over and over again and never tire of them.  WAY back in 1998 I found, and was given, "The Ave Maria Album", a CD that contains at least sixteen versions of this marvelous song.  There are performances of the Bach-Gounod piece, Verdi's rendition as well as my favorite by Schubert.

In addition to different composers, the songs are performed by different artists.  Placido Domingo, Mario Lanza and even Enrico Caruso fill out the tenor section, while Leontyne Price, Marian Anderson and Jeanette MacDonald are among the sopranos and contraltos that represent the women.





In the last nineteen years, I've listened to this album over and over again.  Sometimes I play it very, very loudly in the car and, at other times, I play it softly while trying to get to sleep.  While the Schubert version is my favorite with it's soaring notes, the Verdi rendition sounds almost like a very personal plea.  The Bach-Gounod reminds me of a lovely lullaby.




I think that this album containing several artists performing the same songs is a smashing idea!  There are so many compositions that I love enough to listen to over and over again, but hearing them in slightly different forms keeps things interesting.  In fact, I've created my own playlists featuring some of them, many of which are uniquely British tunes.  I can't get enough of Parry's "Jerusalem", and even "Rule, Britannia" energizes me.  "Jupiter", from Holst's "The Planets", which is also known as the anthem "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and "Land of Hope and Glory" are also favorites that never cease to impress.  "O Mio Babbino, Caro", whether sung by Kiri te Kanawa or Maria Callas, and "Nessun Dorma", which really belongs to Luciano Pavarotti, always remind me of the summer when I first met my wife.  We must have been watching a lot of Merchant-Ivory movies and I think "The Three Tenors" were at their height, so these pieces give me wonderfully nostalgic feelings.

Regardless of what songs you choose, focusing on a few of your absolute favorites and finding the many versions of them can be great fun, and it can give you a new appreciation for some much-loved music.



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