Just time before Christmas to add a late review of a lovely disc I received from Convivium Records. Over the Rainbow is a collection of songs and duets performed by brother and sister BBC2 Young Chorister finalists from 2019, Will James and Kate James. There’s a great variety of repertoire here, from Britten’s Corpus Christi Carol, sung with purity of tone by Kate, and a surprisingly haunting rendition of Sleep by Ivor Gurney, with Will adding edge in the lower registers of his treble voice, through to effective arrangements by George Arthur of the Robbie Williams classic, Angels, and the title track, Over the Rainbow. In the latter, the arrangement has the blended voices colliding beautifully, and there’s poignancy in the added cello (from Sarah Butcher). Angels again effectively matches the two voices, creating a rippling duet over a lilting piano accompaniment – played as throughout the disc by Malcolm Archer. In these lighter numbers, Will and Kate might have relaxed their impeccable chorister diction, but these are nevertheless enjoyable renditions. George Arthur’s arrangements of Simple Gifts and Were you there? also make great use of weaving and twisting the two blended voices together, and in Were you there?, he makes great use of the overlapping, clashing parts, as well as using echoes as the voices tumble over each other, and the piano tolls out the bells in the final verse. Will brings a mournful tone, and a little more expression to Dowland’s Flow, my tears, and Katehe Turtle Dove, in Vaughan Williams arrangement, has more depth of tone too, with a suitably folk simplicity. There’s lots more here – sixteen tracks in all – and this is a highly impressive collection from two clearly talented young singers. Definitely worth checking out – perhaps a last minute Christmas present, if you get in quick!
Nick Boston, Classical Notes, December 2020