BRYN TERFEL Carols & Christmas Songs 4778768

. . . [the voice] has an astonishing timbre: honeyed, melodious, yet drawing on what seems like a vast, primordial source of power. It's a voice that has made Terfel the first-choice Wotan for any opera house staging Wagner's "Ring" . . .

[Terfel is] treating listeners to a host of holiday favorites with his dark-hued and potent voice . . . The Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, led by Tecwyn Evans, is vibrant, and the Nidus Children's Choir and other singers are excellent. It's a classic in any language.

There are few voices so suited to the fireside intimacy of the best Christmas music as Terfel's. The Welsh baritone is always winning when he scales his voice down to a hushed half-voice, and the songs that call for that kind of singing come off best here. "O Jesulein zart" (beautifully backed up by a group of Welsh choruses) and the traditional Austrian carol "Still, still, still" are touching lullabies, and benefit from Terfel's affectionately accurate German . . . [Terfel's] wide vibrato and big cuddly-bear presence contrasts with Crosby¿s more recessive, instrumental, straight-toned vocalism, which so memorably expressed that song's loneliness . . .

The world-famous opera star demonstrates not only the power of his commanding baritone, but also its remarkable tonal range . . . a majestic rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful" . . . [Mack Wilberg's lush arrangement for "Away in the Manger"] displays Terfel at his most vocally delicate . . . splendid . . .

Terfel's bass-baritone is on commanding form here. He shines on "In the bleak midwinter" and "Away in a manger" . . .

Mack Wilberg's novel arrangements provide accompaniments with surprising and playful harmonic twists. There are charming carols from Austria and Argentina and, thanks to the wonders of digital trickery, Bryn and Bing Crosby join forces for a deliciously [duet of White Christmas] . . . Terfel's obvious sincerity and his terrific voice hold everything together, and make for a Christmas disc with that indefinable extra sprinkle of fairy dust which floats it out of the usual rut.

Bryn Terfel's assets as a singer are undeniable: a rich voice of warmth and power, an immaculate sense of diction and the ability to interpret popular material in a way that doesn't sound silly or condescending . . . within a few moments of hearing "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful", the opening track on "Carols and Christmas Songs", you start to sense that this is music Terfel knows and loves. With 15 favorites, plus a bonus disc of holiday material in Welsh, the recording gets the nod for our Album of the Week . . . some of the best selections on this album are simplest. "In the Bleak Midwinter", "Away in a Manger" and "What Child is This" showcase a big but unmannered operatic voice, carefully avoiding over-embellishment.

Die eigentliche Silberscheibe glänzt mit weltbekannten Hits . . . [Die Bonus-CD] ist jedes Lied wert, denn geschmackvoll Singen kann Bryn Terfel auch auf englisch.

Der Cordydd Chorus ist Partner, nicht Background, vor allem in der grandiosen a-cappella-Fassung von "O Jesulein zart". Zu Rolando Villazóns warmstrahlendem Tenor in "El Nacimiento" begleitet Terfel dezent elegant, Gwawr Edwards und Caryl Parry Jones & Band prägen die auf walisisch gesungene Bonus-CD selbstbewusst und gleichberechtigt.

Das ist Musik, die so richtig ins Herz geht, denn Terfel singt die Lieder . . . mit samtigem Timbre und sehr ausgesuchtem Textverständnis.

[Man hört] die Ausnahmestimme des Walisers, der auch diese Lieder mit der Sorgfalt und Differenziertheit angeht, die er sonst Opernarien angedeihen lässt . . . [Bryn Terfel bleibt] stets wohltuend geschmackvoll . . .

. . . zum Dahinschmelzen schön gesungen und mit perfekter deutscher Diktion. Hier zeigt der Opernstar einmal eine ganz neue, sanfte Facette seiner Stimme.

Tout cela chanté d'une voix superbe et généreuse, le coeur sue la main.