Hayley''s third solo album is a very personal collection of classical arias, Irish and Maori folk songs - representing treasured people and places on her remarkable musical journey. Recorded in Dublin, Ireland, Hayley''s third solo album is a very personal collection of classical arias, Irish and Maori folk songs - representing treasured people and places in her remarkable musical journey. For the first time the album also includes several original tracks written by Hayley herself. Celtic Treasure is a celebration of Hayley''s family roots, and her grandparent''s journey across the World on the first boat that left Ireland for New Zealand in the 1880s - taking with them a rich musical heritage. Her grandmother - a singer, and her grandfather, who played the accordion, were to be important influences on Hayley''s musical development. Hayley grew up hearing her grandmother singing Italian opera arias in English. Hayley has continued this tradition by recording the well-known aria One Fine Day... (''Un bel di) from Puccini''s Madama Butterfly. Hayley''s grandmother also sang Irish folk tunes, and Hayley includes one of them - Danny Boy on the album as a tribute to her. Another Irish folk tune Sonny, is the first recording in which Hayley accompanies herself on the piano. In the same vein as Hayley''s signature song Pokarekare Ana from her debut album Pure, Hayley''s deep sense of pride as a New Zealander, and the simple beauty of her voice come together in E Para Ra - a Maori lovesong reflecting her own love of her homeland. Hayley''s first recordings of her own songs bring together all these musical influences. They include her compositions Let Me Lie and Summer Rain and her lyrics to a haunting lute song by the Elizabethan English composer John Dowland, called simply Melancholy Interlude.
Having sung before royalty and performed with the Irish super-group Celtic Woman, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, and Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel, the very young and remarkably beautiful singer is back with a tribute to her Celtic ancestry. As with her previous Platinum-selling releases (she is already a huge star in her native New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and the UK), the orchestrations are lush, with sighing phalanxes of strings and woodwinds. But in keeping with the avowed theme, there are also soft touches of soulful, wavering tin whistles and vaguely fiddle-like violin vamps. The program is more varied than the album''s title might lead one to expect, encompassing everything from "The Last Rose Of Summer" and "Danny Boy" to "Shenandoah," "Scarborough Fair," "Abide With Me," and even a couple of more pop-oriented songs penned by Westenra herself. However, brief sideways winks toward Nashville or the Great White Way do not adulterate the album''s overall mood of ethereal, remote bliss. The one misstep is an English-language cover of "Un Bel Di" ("One Fine Day") from Puccini''s Madama Butterfly: an aria unsuited to the artist''s fragile, bell-like soprano and placid temperament. This aside, established classical crossover/theatrical divas like Sarah Brightman would be wise to begin looking to their laurels. --Christina Roden
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