[ Erato Classics / Warner Classics / CD ]
Release Date: Sunday 10 February 2019
Joyce DiDonato greets you with a song in her heart and twinkle in her eye. The American mezzo-soprano's album Songplay unites world-class musicians from the varied worlds of opera, jazz and tango in the pure pleasure of improvisation, experimentation and exchange. Together they create their own musical language, surprising listeners with timeless melodies transformed and universal stories retold over centuries; songs in English, in Italian and - naturally - in the universal language of music.
On Songplay, along with her hand-picked band led by pianist and arranger Craig Terry, Joyce draws inspiration from Cavalli and Chet Baker in equal measure. The languishing heart in Giordani's Caro mio ben is as emotionally charged as Jerry Bock's hopeful Will he like me?. Perhaps the most compelling reminder of how the music of Songplay breaks down divides is from DiDonato's experience leading vocal and composition workshops in the New York prison Sing Sing, where one of the men who is incarcerated was particularly moved upon hearing her rendition of Caro mio ben: 'I feel like I've known this song my whole life.'
"The real twist here is that DiDonato retains the 'formality' of her operatic sound and delivery while attempting to apply a jazzer's instincts. So her singerly embellishments rub shoulders with jazz improv to achieve a deliberately provocative and (to my mind) unsettling dynamic...The Italian numbers generally sound happier than the American ones." Gramophone
"Joyce DiDonato and her colleagues take Italian baroque songs and arias used by budding opera singers to burnish their technique - stuff like Caro Mio Ben with its totally memorable tune - and offer often mind-blowing performances that, I wager, would bring even the most discerning jazz club audience to their feet.This album deserves to be heard by anyone who admires exceptional singing and instrumental craftsmanship, whether in opera, jazz or popular music." Five Stars Daily Mail