Classical review: May 11

New York-based Noah Stewart began his singing career doing voice-overs for Sesame Street and backings for pop singers.

> ''Noah''
Noah Stewart (tenor)
Decca CD

His tenor voice has a baritone edge to it, burnishing tones nicely. The 18 tracks on this debut disc are aimed at a popular audience, with songs such as Mario Lanza's Without A Song, a Sound of Music medley, Ave Maria, I Have A Dream, Amazing Grace, Nearer My God to Thee, and Silent Night.

He shows great potential as he aims for a more operatic career. He was born in Harlem and Leontyne Price helped him to get a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. Stewart is now being sought and cast by opera companies, but the only serious sample here is Recondita Armonia, from Tosca.

Highlight: Deep River, with emotion and charisma.

Arianna Savall (soprano and harpist)
Alia Vox CD

This distinguished Spanish harpist has a beautifully pitched voice and, with eight musicians accompanying her, presents a 78-minute musical fantasy based on harps about a prince and the taming of a magical harp - derived from an old Taoist tale.

She is using lyrics by Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish poets (translated in the big well-illustrated booklet into English and five other languages) and plays a range of instruments from the small Gothic harp to the majestic Celtic one.

There are extraordinary sounds on this disc, that might be defined as a mix of ancient, Celtic, folk and contemporary classical music.

The performance is divided into 16 tracks. Piewoh is the name of the prince who proved equal to the challenge.

Highlight: Unusual music displaying the charms of the harp.

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