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Botkin is very much the only begetter of this disc. Not only does she multi-track herself on the choral numbers, but she accompanied herself on the keyboard and did many of the arrangements. She also acted as her own producer. What the recording process seems to have lacked is someone who could say no to the multi-talented Ms Botkin.

'Once Upon a Dream', the Tchaikovsky-based waltz from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, is attractive enough in its own way, but Botkin does rather sing it in a too cutesy voice. The reverberation is back with a vengeance in I vow to thee my country and Botkin's arrangement makes the mistake of including verses from the English National Anthem [listen -- track 4, 2:41-4:00]. The Andrea Bocelli number, Quando sono solo, is more naturally recorded, but I find the voice too closely miked and there is not enough air around it, and a pronounced lack of natural acoustic.

It is probably best to regard this as a concept album, the concept being that Botkin does virtually everything on this disc, thus showing her versatility. Some people might like the close recorded, Swingle Singers type sound which she produces in the choral music, so if you listen to her versions of Gibbons's The Silver Swan [listen -- track 8, 0:00-0:48] or Duruflé's Ubi Caritas [listen -- track 18, 0:00-00:56] you will be able to tell whether this disc is for you. In the Duruflé, Botkin uses two choirs in the first verse and uses extreme separation between them, whereas Duruflé's score calls for two choirs of altos (singing the melody) backed by a single choir.

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Copyright © 24 May 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK


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