Classical Crossover Pioneer Sarah Brightman at Radio City Music Hall and On New CD
By: Ellis Nassour
The original "angel" of classical crossover, Drama Desk nominee Sarah Brightman, the original Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart’s The Phantom of the Opera, is back after much too long a wait. She’s finally debuting songs in person from her latest CD, Dreamchasher (Simha; 11 tracks; SRP $10), this Saturday at 8 P.M. at Radio City Music Hall.
After making history onstage with her three full octaves plus voice, she pioneered classical crossover, selling over 30 million albums worldwide. So, it’s hard to imagine Brightman has a dream left. Yet with Dreamchaser, she says, "I’m embarking on the greatest adventure I can imagine." She desires "the adventure of a lifetime": to be launched into outer space for a warp-speed journey to the International Space Station. Dreamchaser reflects the golden-voiced vocalist’s futuristic vision.
Her absence from the music scene over the last six years was a huge blunder. Fame is fleeting. Out of sight, out of mind can lead to career suicide. Her current tour, making a stop at the Music Hall, hopefully, puts her back on top. It’s game on, and, vocally, she’s at the top of her game.
Fans know what to expect from Brightman. Her taste in the past has been passionate and exquisite. She built a mega following. This album is a bit unexpected. One fan, countering some criticism leveled at the new CD, collaboration with veteran producer Mike Hedges (U2, The Cure, Dido), wrote, "It grows on you. Put yourself in a soaring lullaby mood with planets spiraling around you in night space." Actually, that sort of sums up Brightman’s work over the last 15 years.
While expectedly lush and with her in superb voice, the production is [I know it’s grammatically incurred to use the phrase "most unique," because when something is unique that is the apex, but…] most unique and very ethereal.
Though there’re only 11 tracks, albeit at a bargain price; however, over six are in excess of five minutes. They include "Venus and Mars"; "A Song of India," which has music and vocal remembrance of Brightman’s past hits; and the uptempo finale "Closer," a spin on "Tubular Bells.
There’re three absolute standouts: a dreamy "Angel," about a spirit in love and very much in tune with Brightman’s past; an almost six-minute lushly-produced Bollywood-influenced "One Day Like This" by Brit band Elbow [if you have the opt, view the colorful video shot in India on UTube]; an astounding rendition of Sigur Ros’ "Glosoli," featuring new English lyrics by Chris Difford (Squeeze); and a five-minute plus "Ave Maria," that for many fans is a bit overproduced; however, overproduction is not unknown in Brightman’s work and appearances.
Some seats are still available for Chase Visa Concert Series’ Sarah Brightman: Dreamchaser at Radio City Music Hall. Tickets are $55-$265and available at the Music Hall’s box office and TicketMaster outlets and online.