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Jonathan Ansell - Forever

Jonathan Ansell, Forever

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

EARLIER this year, Jonathan Ansell released his debut album, which raced to the top of the classical charts, stormed into the pop charts at No.9 and established him as a major star.

He seeks to follow that up and build on his reputation and popularity with the release of Forever. Unlike his debut, which saw him record versions of classic movie theme tunes, this features a mix of blockbusting classical and popular hits that will be known to many over the years.

And it’s a rousing, passionate, romantic and deeply involving listen that really does cement Ansell’s reputation as a major classical player capable of crossover success in a way not necessarily experienced since the likes of The Three Tenors.

What’s more, he has chosen his songs well. Album opener Who Wants To Live Forever was, of course, a Queen classic tailor-made for a person with a big, epic and highly emotive voice to sing. The late Freddy Mercury did it amazingly well, backed by the slowly introduced but spine-tingling guitar work of Brian May. Ansell does it with the backing of a full orchestra. And just as Queen’s provided a suitably stirring backdrop for the Highlander soundtrack, this feels like a soundtrack moment in search of a movie. In that sense, it also provides a nice bridge between his debut album and this sophomore effort.

The popular classic number Brindisi, from Verdi’s La Traviata immediately follows – and is an uplifting, boisterous piece of music that will be familiar to millions. Ansell fully does it justice; it’s a real crowd-pleaser.

Daniel Bedingfield’s If You’re Not The One follows and is, arguably, one of the lesser moments. Ansell’s voice, if anything, lends the words and emotions more gravitas, but the song itself is the weak point.

But Amor Te Vieta from Giordano’s Fedora is another pleasing classical highpoint, while his version of Sigur Ros’ Hoppipola is every but as stunning as it is in original form. It’s my pick of the album.

Thereafter, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is another brilliant rendition, and the much-loved Nessun Dorma gratifies, as if to underline my previous comment about the Three Tenors.

Patrick Hawes’ Hearts Of England does, admittedly, carry a Sunday tea-time, Songs of Praise kind of feel and is another curious choice, but by then Ansell has done more than enough to convince you of his merit, his talent and the album’s enjoyability.

Download picks: Hoppipola, Who Wants To Live Forever, Nessun Dorma, Brindisi

Track listing:

  1. Who Wants To Live Forever?
  2. Brindisi
  3. If You’re Not The One
  4. Amor Ti Vieta
  5. Hoppipolla
  6. Aranjuez
  7. Canto Della Terra
  8. E Lucevan Le Stelle
  9. Nessun Dorma
  10. Panis Angelicus
  11. Hearts Of England
  12. Oh Holy Night