Here, once again, is our very own Music Man. Myron, I hope you really like this show. It’s my favorite. ~Marie
I was hoping to have had this out sooner but my order of this program had not arrived yet when the PBS special came on television tonight. So here is my review of the television show on PBS – December 2, 2013. This was filmed on March 27, 2013 or as they called it at the time –“ Christmas in March in Miami “. Try to get your head around that image !
In quick summary, I want to say that this program was really excellent but given their schedule that week it should not have been good at all. More on that later.
I don’t usually describe the staging of a song but this was excellent: curtain closed, the boys walk in through the audience shaking hands as they keep walking and while the orchestra (out of sight) plays intro to Panis Angelicus. They make it to the stage just in time to start the song. Beautifully sung – period . Then this is done the curtain opens to a very lavishly decorated stage with full orchestra and the song Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. The whole transition was excellent. Nice lively rendition.
With the boys up on their round platform they sat on the edge and sang I’ll be Home for Christmas. Another great orchestration and using the alternate introduction made famous by Bing Crosby. Nice singing and very rich in tone. Gianluca gave a wonderful mellow sound to the 3rd verse. This was followed by the boy’s now-famous medley with the big band Sinatra sound – Medley: Jingle Bells Rock-Let it Snow-Wonderful Time of the Year This is always a powerful performance and they always have fun with the audience. When you compare the “We are Love “ concert which was filmed the night before this program, this audience was a lot more “alive” and responsive to the boys.
Perhaps the best song and best performance of the night: The Christmas Song(Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire) – the orchestration was fantastic and it starts with Gianluca singing in a most incredible and mellow tone. He is inspired by the great singer Mel Torme – who, by the way, was also the composer of this great song. Torme was known as the “velvet fog” – nickname because his voice moved so smooth and because he was a great jazz improviser. That was Gianluca right here and right now. To make it even more wondrous, Piero – who normally pushes tone rather strong came through with his own wonderful, mellow vocal sound. Ignazio followed with some jazz rifs and echoed by Gianluca again. Mel Torme would be proud. Truly great performance of this wonderful song.
Up next a very nice rendition of Ave Maria – Schubert version. As Gianluca points out there is another famous version written by Johann S. Bach and arranged by Gounod. Here, I am afraid, we had some evidence of the tired voices from the stressed out week. More on that later. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – changed the mood right away with a lot of cute facials and footwork from the guys. This was fun. This section concluded with their very fine arrangement of O Holy Night. Giving each boy a good solo section and also using very nice harmony is part. The singing here is just absolutely glorious. Great orchestration but this is all the guys. This is what Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio were created for. This is what the original meaning of the words “Bel Canto” really meant. Absolutely pure and simple beautiful singing – period !
The next section starts with Silent Night which was not quite as good as they have done and part of it was the rather dumb position they are sitting in – ugh ! They looked so uncomfortable from the start. Singers don’t sit on the floor with their legs crossed up under their arms – sorry Gianluca. Fire the stage director. They have sung this song much better on prior times (the Today Show last year, for one).
A let-down to a highlight. Elvis’ Blue Christmas – sung totally a capella ! ! !
Starting without any pitch from orchestra (nice to have perfect pitch) and sung with no orchestra, or piano or guitar. Just PURE GUYS ! That was fantastic and very pretty. This was followed by another of my favorites that they have sung before Notte Stellata (The Swan)–another “Bel Canto” example of singing. The version of White Christmas was sung vey nicely but I felt they should have stayed with the original key which is lower by two steps and therefore better range for all. They carried it off. The concert ended with Feliz Navidad along with Belinda. Nice audience sing-along. Good ending to a program.
As I said above, this concert came off in truly excellent fashion – great music done with great quality. Congratulations boys, but no due to planning. There should never have been a plan that forced the boys into filming two entirely different concerts for television BACK TO BACK – one day after the other. “We are Love” on March 26 and Buon Natale on March 27 ! This is bad vocal planning and vocal care. I also think it takes advantage of the boys’ good nature and their extraordinary professionalism ! The proper plan should have been a week of rehearsals for the first show and two days off and then a week of rehearsals for the second show. These two concerts came off because of the three most wonderful young men in the business today.
Bless you Ignazio. Bless you Piero. Bless you Gianluca. We love you and wish you all a great and restful Christmas with your families.