It's been far too long since the great Nascimento released an album of new material, but on the basis of this, he's completely on form, not losing his golden touch at all. Dedicated to his late stepmother, it finds Nascimento mining the themes of childhood and love that have always been the very heartbeat of his music. And to help him explore them, he's used some colleagues from the days of the classic Clube Da Esquina, people like Lô Borges and Eumir Deodato. While most of this album is made up of songs, letting Nascimento's brilliantly luminous voice shine, there's also an instrumental excursion, "Cantaloupe Island," that brings in American jazzers Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny. It's pleasant, but hardly up to the high standards of the rest of this disc, such as the glowing saudade of "Tristesse," as powerful a song as any in Nascimento's excellent canon.
French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, whose honey-sweet voice perhaps remains the best introduction to the countertenor voice for the skeptical, attempts something new with the collection of gorgeous and generally underrated Vivaldi works. It might, therefore, not be perfectly appropriate as an introduction to Jaroussky, but it's a daring and altogether engrossing project. The collection is accurately billed as a group of sacred works for alto, which makes it a surprising attempt for : his voice corresponds most closely to a mezzo-soprano range, and he has in the past taken on full-scale operatic arias where his voice blooms into a colorful and attractive top. Here he deliberately forbids himself that part of his vocal repertoire, even in faster, more athletic pieces that would seem to permit it. Everything is kept at a very low temperature. It's a risky course, but several things come together to make it work, and work in a big way. One is the presence of Jaroussky's handpicked Ensemble Artaserse, which responds to the subtlety of his approach with a sensitivity that would be worth the price of admission in itself.