Sacred Songs

Sacred Songs

by Renée Fleming


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Renée Fleming still reigns as a leading diva of the opera stage, but this album of Sacred Songs finds her in a remarkably un-divalike mood, and the result is some of the most purely enjoyable singing of her career. In her opera roles, some listeners feel Fleming is "acting" a bit too much, adding interpretive shadings and nuances that can distract from the beauty of the melodies. That's not a problem for a single moment here, as the soprano simply gives us one glorious outpouring of song after another: If she hadn't already made an album called The Beautiful Voice, that title could easily apply here as well. These excerpts from masses and requiems, oratorios and cantatas, have more than sacred texts in common, for they also feature soaring lyrical lines that sound nothing less than angelic in Fleming's glistening performances. The Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria" sets the tone of purity at the outset, joined a few tracks later by an equally moving Schubert "Ave Maria." Further highlights are many: At two expressive poles, the "Laudamus Te" from Mozart's Mass in C Minor is a joyful hymn of praise and the "Domine Deus" from Poulenc's Gloria a pensive meditation. "A Simple Song" from Bernstein's Mass has never sounded lovelier, and while it may have been cheating a bit to include the "Evening Prayer" from Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel, no one is going to object to hearing this luminous duet with mezzo Susan Graham. From start to finish (another highlight, with the soprano joined by fiddler Mark O'Connor on "Amazing Grace"), these Sacred Songs capture Fleming at her finest.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/27/2005
Label: Decca
UPC: 0028947571773
catalogNumber: 000519302


  1. Ave Maria, for voice & piano (or other vocal arrangements; after Bach's Prelude No. 1 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)  (03:18)
  2. Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174): Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man's des

    1. Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man's desiring)  (02:47)
  3. Dank sei dir, Herr for voice & piano  (03:19)
  4. Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), song for voice & piano, D. 839 (Op. 52/6)  (04:19)
  5. Mass No. 17 for soloists, chorus & orchestra in C minor (fragment, "Great Mass"), K. 427 (K. 417a): Laudamus te

    1. Laudamus te  (04:56)
  6. Panis angelicus for tenor, organ, harp, cello & bass  (04:14)
  7. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: He shall feed His flock

    1. He shall feed His flock  (05:15)
  8. Mass, theatre piece for singers, players & dancers: A Simple Song

    1. A Simple Song  (04:08)
  9. Requiem, for 2 solo voices, chorus, organ & orchestra, Op. 48: Pie Jesu

    1. Pie Jesu  (04:05)
  10. Gloria, for soprano, chorus & orchestra, FP 177: Domine Deus

    1. Domine Deus  (03:53)
  11. Vesperae solennes de confessore for soloists, chorus & orchestra, K. 339: Laudate Dominum

    1. Laudate Dominum  (04:24)
  12. Messiah, oratorio (reorchestration of Handel's HWV 56), K. 572: Rejoice greatly

    1. Rejoice greatly  (04:42)
  13. Hänsel und Gretel, opera: Abends will ich schlafen gehn

    1. Abends will ich schlafen gehn  (03:23)
  14. L' Enfance du Christ, oratorio for soprano, 2 tenors, Baritone, 3 basses, chorus & orchetsra ("trilogie sacrée") H. 130 (Op. 25): L'adieu des bergers (The Sherpherd's Farewell)

    1. L'adieu des bergers (The Sherpherd's Farewell)  (04:11)
  15. Maria Wiegenlied (Mary's Lullaby: "Maria sitzt am Rosenhag"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 76/52  (02:22)
  16. Amazing Grace  (05:20)

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Sacred Songs 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though the title of this newest release from the prodigious output of Renee Fleming may suggest a recording of hymns and down-home revival songs, nothing could be further from the truth. This collection of sixteen works is gleaned from sacred music through the centuries and gives Fleming the opportunity to include in her recorded repertoire works she might otherwise not have had the opportunity to sing. While those who appreciate her gifts as a musician will treasure this very straightforward approach to some beautiful excerpts, there will be the usual detractors who find Fleming's glamour on the stage non-transferable to the CD. And it would be a shame to pass this recital by on that premise. Fleming is in fine voice, free of mannerisms, and elegant in phrasing in a wide range of works by Handel ('Rejoice greatly', 'He shall feed his flock'), Bach ('Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben'), both Gounod's and Schubert's 'Ave Maria', Mozart ('Laudate dominum' from the Solemn Vespers and 'Laudamus te' from the Great Mass), Bernstein's Mass ('A Simple Song'), Fauré ('Pie Jesu'), Poulenc ('Domine Deus' from the Gloria), Franck ('Panis Angelicus'), and other composers. She even includes the 'Evening Prayer' from Humperdinck's 'Hänsel und Gretel' with exquisite surprise gift of support from Susan Graham. The recital is conducted by Andreas Delfs with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Far from being a crossover ploy this album is a collection of beautiful music beautifully sung. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
She has a beautiful voice and gives a brilliant performance to the pieces. Nevertheless, everything on this CD is a boring round up of the usual suspects. There is such a vast amount of unknown outstanding music out there that it is unfortunate that Ms Fleming would resort to exclusively well-known pieces. Albums like this send composers like Bach and Reger and Franck down the slippery slope of becoming one hit wonders.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago