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Highlights: Romanza, Sarabande, Vento Di Passione, Pensarti Non Pensarti
Serenata is one of the stronger albums to be released independently as far as production and sound quality is concerned (and the physical album design is worth a mention, too). It's polished and it even has the odd song written for Gari Glaysher from none other than Luciano Pavarotti's daughter, Cristina. Serenata is mostly concerned with Italian songs, with only two songs sung in another language. It's unclear where the arrangements have come from, crediting only a producer and sound engineer, but regardless, the arrangements are consistent throughout and parallels with Glaysher's romanticism.
Glaysher's performance is unrelentlessly passionate and driven throughout the album. The opening song 'Romanza' exemplifies his ability to carry a melody with ease, but also to narrate us through a story as he sings with such conviction and power (not to mention his superb diction). He has the range of a tenor, but has the deeper and richer tones of a baritone which gives him a unique flavour. The only slight drawback is Glaysher's habit of making a hiccup type sound at the start and finish of his bigger notes though it bizarrely seems to convey even more emotion.
It's clear from the track selection that Glaysher is a big fan of Francesco Paolo Tosti, an Italian composer, as he has no less than five of his compositions on the album. Tosti's material is often used in the Italian classical market but rarely so in mainstream crossover. Unfortunately there is an exception to this rule and that is embodied by Andrea Bocelli; unfortunate because Serenata suffers from severe identity crisis. With over half the tracks being previously recorded or originated by Andrea Bocelli, is Serenata some kind of tribute album? Glaysher's unique interpretations of the songs suggest 'no' and it's probably natural to release an Italian album and have the prolific Bocelli breathing down its neck but seasoned Bocelli fans may find Serenata irksome all the same.
The album is something else entirely if you have somehow lived in a box and not crossed Bocelli's path, because much of Serenata is refreshing and quite creative in its selection compared to other crossover albums. It has a good balance between predictable standards (Sarah Brightman's 'Nella Fantasia', Bocelli's 'Con Te Partiro' and Handel's 'Sarabande'), tracks that are lukewarm in familiarity (Bocelli's 'Romanza' and Rodrigo's 'Aranjuez'), originals (Cristine Pavarotti's 'Vanto Di Passione' and 'Pensarti Non Pensarti') and the mostly unfamiliar Tosti material. This album is well worth getting for the latter two categories alone.
The definite highlights of the album are easily Pavarotti's original tracks (written with Andrea Bellentani). 'Vento Di Passione' and 'Pensarti Non Pensarti' are desperately romantic, accessible and melodic, and they are exclusive to Glaysher. The Tosti material offers up the authentic Italian sound (especially as British Glaysher's Italian is excellent) and gives the album's unique selling point to the overseas market. The better known tracks will comfort the average crossover listener, especially 'Nella Fantasia' and Glaysher's adapted version of Handel's 'Sarabande' (he added his own English lyrics). His rendition of 'Con Te Partiro' is quite unnecessary, however, as the arrangement is no different to Brightman and Bocelli's world famous version.
If there was only one word that could be used for Gari Glaysher, it would be 'passion'. Serenata is an album that delights in introducing its audience to unpredictable material but more importantly it delivers conviction and emotion from a tireless singer whose energy is infectious and touching. This is ultimately a purchase that's difficult to regret.
3. Nella Fantasia
5. L’Ultima Canzone
6. Vento Di Passione
9. Pensarti Non Pensarti
11. La Serenata
12. Con Te Partiro
This song does not feature on the album