Russell Watson - La Voce
Review by Jack Foley
RUSSELL Watson emphatically underlines his position as Britain’s finest tenor with the release of La Voce (or ‘the voice’), which is as celebratory as it is to be celebrated.
The album marks Watson’s first since the Salford born tenor finished radiotherapy for the pituitary tumor that saw him undergoing emergency surgery… the second he suffered in a short space of time.
Incredibly, though, it also marks a new era for his voice. For, he went from a V8 to a V12 voice once the tumor – which had been growing for 10 to 15 years in his nasal cavity – was removed.
The fresh impetus it gave him made him want to tackle some of the greatest classical crossover tracks in history, as well as some personal favourites… and the highlights fly thick and fast.
Make no mistake, this is an incredibly assured and stylish collection of well-known favourites, which not only showcase a tremendous and rejuvenated vocalist, but also the talents of the Roma Sinfonietta, Ennio Morricone’s orchestra of choice.
With such grand backing, it’s little wonder that the album takes on an epic, cinematic sweep with many of the tracks well known from use on soundtracks. It also ensures that the album retains a distinctly Italian flavour throughout.
And what better way to open proceedings than with Watson’s take on Parla Piu Piano (the love theme from The Godfather), which is evocative of such rich emotion and such stirring imagery. Yet, for all of its history, Watson gives it a new lease of life and opens the album’s account with one of its definitive moments.
He seldom puts a foot wrong during the remaining 13 selections. E Sara Cosi is a breathtakingly romantic follow-up, beautifully sung and expertly composed, while the romanticism continues with the towering Be My Love – delivered in English. It almost catches you off-guard.
Arriverderci Roma is playful, especially musically with its beats, and evocative of the Eternal City, Intermezzo beautiful yet somehow tragic (and awe-inspiring in this form), and Adagio utterly mesmerising.
Each selection is a classic already, but given fresh perspective and equal reverence by Watson, who brings gravitas, sophistication, passion, warmth, sadness and life to each one of them. Put together with Roma Sinfonietta, it’s a match made in heaven.
So, as previously stated… La Voce is as much a celebration of Watson’s immense talents as it is the music he has chosen which is, in every way possible, to be cherished and celebrated by those lucky enough to own it.
Download picks: Parla Piu Piano, E Sara Cosi, Arriverderci Roma, Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te), La Vita Senza Te, Intermezzo, Adagio