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Renée Fleming - Haunted Heart


Release Date: 05/10/2005 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 000440602   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Arthur SchwartzJoni MitchellRichard WhitingCarl Fischer,   ... 
Performer:  Fred HerschRenée FlemingBill Frisell
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is not a classical CD. Neither is it "classical star belts out pop and show tunes in her operatic voice." This is a jazz vocal album, and a very subtle and introspective one. In her liner notes, Renée Fleming calls the sound she uses here her "other voice". You might even call it her "original voice", since her first real musical job was as a jazz club singer. Singing as she often does here--right on top of the microphone--a pointed, fully supported sound would have been disastrous, as indeed, such an approach frequently has been for classical vocalists attempting American popular repertoire. This rather breathy throat voice, however, is perfect for capturing the style, mood, and character of these Read more songs.


Fleming may have left her operatic voice behind, but not the lessons that have made her a classical music star. Her phrasing is exemplary, and her mastery of breath control allows her to extend lines to daring lengths. Her exceptional technical knowledge allows her to register emotions with shifts in color that are sometimes sudden, but more often are achieved with a minimal but telling change. Daringly keeping the whole program in slowish tempos and introspective mood, Fleming succeeds through her mastery of nuance, an artistry shared by her excellent session partners, pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Bill Frisell.


The overall theme of this program of mostly less-familiar songs ranges from the devastation of lost love (Arthur Schwartz's "Haunted Heart"; Joni Mitchell's "River"; Carl Fischer's "You've Changed") to less painful reminiscence about love; but there is always a sense that love is more a reality or an ideal than something achieved, even in songs that are usually upbeat, such as Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour", Lennon & McCartney's "In My Life", and even Harry Warren's "This Is Always".


In an astonishing sequence, Jimmy Webb's very dark "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress" is followed by a piano interlude that quotes the descending chords following Wozzeck's drowning in Alban Berg's opera. Hersch extends this into an improvisation leading seamlessly into the Johnny Mercer standard "Midnight Sun". This is the "haunted heart" of the disc, and at this point it rises to real greatness. As the mood lightens toward the end, Mahler's "Liebst du um Schönheit" and Villa-Lobos' "Canção do Amor" are sung as jazz songs (successfully), and Emile Paladilhe's "Psyché", though sung as written, is still in "jazz voice", working well that way.


This is among the best jazz/pop albums ever attempted by an operatic diva, the best since Eileen Farrell's "I've got a Right to Sing the Blues" of the 1950s. It would be too much to expect the performances to match the great work of Sarah Vaughan and her peers, but Fleming's work is worthy of the comparison and I suggest that it would please jazz fans. Sound-wise, I did note an unusual hollow quality in the lowest, quietest, most closely sung notes. Otherwise, the recording has a warm studio sound with an ambience that befits the intimate mood.
--Joseph Stevenson, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Haunted Heart by Arthur Schwartz
Performer:  Fred Hersch (Piano), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
2.
River by Joni Mitchell
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Fred Hersch (Piano), Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
3.
When Did You Leave Heaven by Richard Whiting
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: This work was written in collaboration with Walter Bullock. 
4.
You've Changed by Carl Fischer
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
5.
Answer Me My Love by Fred Rauch
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Bill Frisell.
This work was written in collaboration with Gerhard Winkler (1906 - 1977). 
6.
My Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bill Frisell (Guitar), Fred Hersch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
7.
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Jimmy Webb
Performer:  Bill Frisell (Guitar), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
Wozzeck - Midnight Sun by Fred Hersch
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Fred Hersch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Renée Fleming.
This composition is based on an excerpt from Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" and Lionel Hampton's "Midnight Sun." 
9.
Rückert Lieder (5): no 5, Liebst du um Schönheit by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Bill Frisell (Guitar), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Bill Frisell. 
10.
Cançao do amor, W 546 by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Performer:  Fred Hersch (Piano), Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; Brazil 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: Portuguese 
Notes: Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
11.
Psyché by Emile Paladilhe
Performer:  Fred Hersch (Piano), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: French 
12.
Hard times come again no more by Stephen Foster
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Bill Frisell (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; USA 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Bill Frisell. 
13.
My One and Only Love by Guy Wood
Performer:  Fred Hersch (Piano), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 8 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "This is Always."
Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
14.
In My Life by John Lennon
Performer:  Fred Hersch (Piano), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Fred Hersch. 
15.
This Is Always by Harry Warren
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Fred Hersch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Avatar Studios, New York City 
Length: 8 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "My one and only love."
Arranger: Fred Hersch. 

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