Soundtakes/ SHOW TUNES

``With A Song in my Heart.'' (Songs by Rodgers & Hart, Porter, Kern, Arlen, George & Ira Gershwin.) Jessye Norman, soprano. Boston Pops, John Williams, conductor. (Philips digital 412 625-1 [LP]; 412 625-2 [CD]) -- This release has so much going for it. Not surprisingly, there is not a dull song on the album (a gathering of some of the finest tunesmiths America has ever produced). Jessye Norman owns one of the great operatic voices of this or any time -- one that gains in richness and sultry power the lower it goes. John Williams is the toast of Hollywood and Boston, with his film scores and his conducting of the world-famous Boston Pops. And yet, the orchestrations are desperately overblown. Then, too, Miss Norman sounds as if she is singing one inch from the microphone. Why does a stilted aura sit on this venture? Is it that everyone is trying too hard to make a statement about the crossover appeal of the repertoire? Is it, perhaps, that in front of an audience Miss Norman can let her hair down more easily in this repertoire? Maybe because my expectations were so high, this release wasn't quite able to live up to them.

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