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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Forging a unique creative relationship, Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin's mutual professional history extends back some two decades. Ritenour was a core artist on Grusin's label, GRP, throughout the 1980s and early '90s; in 1986, they first collaborated on the Grammy Award winning Harlequin, a critically-acclaimed, Brazilian-themed recording. Ritenour also appeared on many of the pianist/composer's film scores and solo recordings, and the two jammed together on GRP Super Live in 1987. Two Worlds, the classical-oriented labor of love that reunites the two legends, is more than simply a beautiful creative departure from their usual jazz-oriented projects. A blend of original compositions and respectful reworkings of timeless classics from Bach, Bartok, Villalobos, Mompov, and Segovia, the collection -- which features stellar guest performances by opera star Renee Fleming, violinist Gil Shaham, and cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber -- finds Ritenour and Grusin joyously reconnecting with their rich classical roots. Among the highlights are the lush, highly percussive Vivaldi/Bach piece "Bach Concerto, featuring a twenty-piece string section; "Bachianas Aria," a piece from Brazilian composer Villalobos, provides a showcase for opera diva Renee Fleming. As for the original compositions, there's the haunting, melodic "Elegia," which Grusin composed many years ago for his late father, a violinist, featuring Gil Shaham; "Lagrima (Lee's Prelude)," a graceful Ritenour original led by the classical guitar; "River's Song," Grusin's clever medley adaptation of the folk songs "The Water Is Wide" and "Shenandoah," featuring Fleming on vocals and "Canto," an Italian-styled "winter song" which Grusin originally wrote for a Ritenour project in the late '70s. Timeless yet contemporary, Two Worlds is beautiful reunion of these musical soul mates. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg

Incredibly, the world's greatest living conductor is getting better as he gets older. It's true -- Claudio Abbado, whose combination of effortless technique, lucid textures, and luminous tone coupled with his endless love for music has made him the preeminent conductor of our time, has only gotten better with age. Abbado's first Mahler's Fourth from 1978 is beautifully played by the Vienna Philharmonic, radiantly sung by Frederica von Stade, and joyously conducted by the young Maestro at the first peak of his powers. After his successful years with the Berlin Philharmonic and especially after some health problems, Abbado's second Mahler's Fourth from 2005 is extraordinarily spiritually led by the old Master at the peak of his interpretative abilities. His fluent technique is even more refined, but Abbado now seems more relaxed and thus more expressive than before, allowing and even encouraging portamento and vibrato. His lucid textures are less contrapuntal now and more flowing and his luminous lines are more lyrical and even more luminous. And his endless love of music -- and of life -- has infused the performance with a tangible sense of transcendence. The Berlin Philharmonic responds to its former music director with obvious affection and consummate artistry. Some listeners might find that Renée Fleming is too ironically maternal for the child's view of heaven that closes the symphony, but no listener will complain that Fleming is anything less than incandescently erotic in Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder that closes the disc. Deutsche Grammophon's live sound is entirely translucent. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 14, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet
Renée Fleming turned 60 shortly before the release of this album in 2019. Its contents, recorded in 2017 and 2010, still date from her sixth decade, but there is no question that Fleming has the kind of natural-sounding voice that is aging well and should have a few more go-rounds in the operatic realm, even as she takes up less-demanding fare on the musical stage. The recording of Mahler's Rückert-Lieder, Op. 44, made in 2010 with Christian Thielemann leading the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, is classic Fleming and is worth the price of admission. Sample the final song, the sublime Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, and you'll find the soprano's uncanny mixture of creamy and graceful over the long range fully intact. It's a marvelous performance. Seven years later, the news is not quite as good, although Fleming delivers distinctive readings of Schumann's Frauenliebe und -leben, Op. 42; they're on the operatic side as would be expected, but the intimate quality of these songs also serves Fleming well. Only in the set of Brahms songs does Fleming show signs of strain toward the top. The lively accompaniments of pianist Hartmut Höll are a plus, and this is a release that will more than satisfy Fleming fans. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2008 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

This is the second time Renée Fleming has recorded Strauss' Four Last Songs, and she gives a serene, luminous performance. One of the glories of her handling of the songs is the variety of vocal colors she brings to them. For instance, "Frühling" begins with a throaty duskiness that gives way to silky gossamer as the poetic imagery lifts from "somber shadows" to "blue skies." The details of Fleming's interpretation are always rooted in a sure sense of the songs' larger musical trajectory. She has performed this work more than any other; besides having a voice and temperament ideally suited to the songs, she brings a career's worth of experience singing them, giving her both interpretive freedom and deeply considered insight. In the program notes, she is quoted as saying, "When I started learning the epic Four Last Songs, it soon became clear to me that, no matter how well the songs were sung, it was the overall pacing of the piece, combined with the quality of the orchestral playing, that really shaped it." She has stellar collaborators in Christian Thielemann and the Münchner Philharmoniker. Thielemann's reading and the orchestra's playing are luxuriant and ecstatic. A small quibble: the songs should have been placed at the end, rather than at the beginning of the album; the radiance of the performance needs to be followed by silence. In the remaining selections, which include excerpts from Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Ägyptische Helena and various songs, Fleming sings with no less vocal beauty, but the music itself, as lovely as much of it is, overall seems anticlimactic following the sublime songs. The warmth of Decca's sound matches that of the performances. The second CD, Signature Roles at the Met Opera, is a reissue of recordings Fleming made for Decca over the years, with a variety of conductors and orchestras. The title is misleading; the fine print reads that these are "the soprano's most acclaimed roles, many performed at the Met." Decca doesn't identify the source of the performances, so it requires some sleuthing to figure out when and under what circumstances the recordings were made. The selection from Thaïs with Yves Abel leading Orchestra National Bordeaux Aquitaine is taken from a complete 2000 performance of the opera; the selections from Eugene Onegin and Rusalka and Otello, with Georg Solti leading the London Symphony Orchestra, are from the 1996 collection Signatures-Great Opera Scenes; and the final scene from Capriccio, with Christoph Eschenbach leading the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, is taken from a 1998 album Strauss Heroines. These are in fact some of Fleming's most characteristic roles from the late- and post-Romantic eras, and in each, her velvety voice and emotional and dramatic focus are on superb display. Here, closing the CD with the tender, bittersweet, ambiguous finale to Capriccio is a brilliant artistic decision. This collection should be of interest to any Fleming fan who doesn't already have the previous releases of these performances, and it makes a terrific introduction for anyone who wants to get to know her work. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2001 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI

It’s fitting that Renée Fleming, “the people’s diva,” would make an album of pop songs that feels more like a labor of love than a crossover attempt. Dark Hope is filled with songs and arrangements that wouldn’t appear on a typical attempt to bring a classical vocalist into the mainstream -- witness her dark, intricate take on the Mars Volta’s “With Twilight as My Guide.” It should almost go without saying that Fleming's voice is just as remarkable here as it is in her usual milieu, but the album proves time and again that she is game for just about anything. Fleming learned how to sing in the more intimate, confessional style that Dark Hope's singer/songwriter and alternative rock fare requires just for this project; combined with her interpretive gifts, she does a masterful job of remaining true to the spirit of the original songs while offering her own twists on them. Her voice dances over the wordy, syllable-heavy lyrics of Willy Mason's “Oxygen,” brings a mature moodiness to “Stepping Stone” that was lacking in Duffy's spitfire version, and remains connected to the intimacy in the Arcade Fire’s “Intervention” even as the song swells around her. Indeed, Dark Hope's swelling arrangements are as much a weakness as they are a strength: at times, it feels like the album’s producers didn’t trust that her gorgeous voice singing these songs would be enough of a draw. Quite a few tracks have busy instrumentation that detracts from Fleming's singing; others have arrangements that try too hard to be tastefully contemporary, and dilute the songs’ impact. Fleming is divinely torchy on Muse's “Endlessly,” but her trip-hop-tinged surroundings are no match for her rich vocals. Her interpretation of Band of Horses' “No One’s Gonna Love You” is let down by an arrangement that sounds like generic alt-pop -- though, on the other hand, it’s a relief that it doesn’t sound like A String Tribute to Band of Horses. Despite these problems, both of these songs are among Dark Hope's standout tracks, along with the subtly sultry electro-folk turn on Jefferson Airplane’s “Today” and the urgent yet airy reading of Death Cab for Cutie's “Soul Meets Body.” It’s just frustrating that even songs as revered as Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” -- which is virtually a standard at this point -- are burdened with anything that takes away from a voice as remarkable as Fleming's singing a melody that powerful. She deserves credit for undertaking such a bold enterprise, but unfortunately Dark Hope's execution lets down the concept. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released August 19, 2002 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

CD€24.99

Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Opera Rara

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet