Picks and Pans Review: Blue Skies

updated 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Kiri Te Kanawa, with Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra

In this album of pop standards, Te Kanawa allows you to forget that she is one of the most gifted and graceful sopranos in opera. While the sheer luster of her voice might make even other divas envious, Te Kanawa sings with a flowing naturalness; it seems like conversation rather than oratory. Using the lower range of her voice, she meets the material on equal terms—neither falsely elevating it with her own grandeur nor stooping to pseudohip mannerisms and showy swing. Her consummately controlled vibrato is reminiscent of Streisand's, and in fact the voices have a similar warmth and appeal. But the opera singer eschews those brassy and histrionic effects that only a Streisand can pull off. In one of the last projects he completed before he died of a heart attack in October at age 64, Nelson Riddle provided a set of restrained yet utterly relaxed arrangements that suit Te Kanawa beautifully. Selections include Speak Low, It Might as Well Be Spring, Here's That Rainy Day, Yesterdays, The Folks Who Live on the Hill and a slow, pearlescent How High the Moon that can make the heart swoon. (London)

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