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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Image © 1999 The Decca Record Company, London
Image © 1999 The Decca Record Company, London  

In 1998, it was France's Emma Shapplin. England's Sarah Brightman is also doing it while the Welsh soprano Charlotte Church is currently sticking to her classical foundation. Yet 1999's classical crossover is a soprano from the Notting Hill district of London named Izzy. Born as Isobel Cooper and raised in Muchwenlock, Shropshire, this attractive young woman completed her stage school education before winning a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study singing. At the age of 23, she teamed up with Blondie's producer Craig Leon and recorded her stunning debut album at London's Abbey Road Studios in 1998. Libera Me (Decca (UK) 458 913-2) was released in September 1999 and soared to number 1 in the UK classical charts in just four weeks. Now at 24, Izzy is taking Europe by storm. You can order the album from amazon.co.uk.

A recent issue of the HMV Choice magazine paid tribute to Izzy with a brief personal sketch and review of Libera Me. She was also written up in London's Daily Mail Weekend Edition. Live performances of "Baïlèro" and "She Moved Through The Fair" on BBC's Breakfast, Ireland's Late Late Show and Gloria Hunniford's Open House have also expanded Izzy's exposure. "My music is passionate," smiles Izzy, "it's spiritual, colourful, peaceful and very honest, but most of all it's liberating—it liberates me."

Izzy has a crystalline voice with a wide range. She confidently sings equally well accompanied by orchestra or a capella—the traditional "She Moved Through The Fair" which she arranged herself for the album is a stunning example of her vocal abilities. The album includes lovely modern arrangements of famous classics ("Baïlèro," "Libera Me" and "Nanita") and songs she composed herself ("Amor," "Fall The Leaves" and "Laudate Dominium"). With stated influences including both classical (Mahler, Pavarotti) and contemporary (Kate Bush, Björk and Madonna), she loves composing and did most of her writing for Libera Me during a year off while recovering from a case of severe tonsillitis.

The title track is loosely based on a movement from Fauré's Requiem while "Baïlèro" is from Canteloube's Songs Of The Auvergne, a track made famous by Kiri Te Kanawa. "Nanita" is variation on a Falla's arrangement of a Spanish folk song. Allusions to Albinoni's "Adagio Giazotto" come through in Izzy's own "Amor" while the rich orchestration and lush multi-tracked vocals of her "Laudate Dominium" make it an instant favourite and the song, like the reprise of "Baïlèro," is certain to excite and delight Adiemus fans.

Watch for Graham Lubin's forthcoming review of the album at Celestial Voices. Although currently only released in the United Kingdom, you may order Libera Me internationally from amazon.co.uk here. Critically acclaimed and taking the world by storm, this is certainly the female vocal classical crossover album of the year;Izzy's Libera Me is worth a journey—a must listen!

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