November 15, 2019 HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert (DVD/CD Review)
The world’s most successful and best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman unveiled her highly-anticipated HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert on Blu-ray + CD, DVD + CD and Digital on Friday, November 15th, 2019 thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment.
Powerhouse Vocalist Brightman is an international superstar with global sales of over 300 million units. A purveyor of the Classical Crossover movement, she has starred in Broadway musicals, operettas and plays, as well as in film. A songbird known for her work with the esteemed Andrew Lloyd Webber, Brightman also has 12 exceptional solo albums to her name, including 1988’s The Trees They Grow So High, 1998’s Eden, and 2018’s Hymn.
The aforementioned Hymn represented a Renaissance for the singer, as well as a journey full of inspiration and spirituality, hope and joy; offering a message of unity to people across the globe. Conceived and created by Brightman, Anthony Van Laast (Mamma Mia, Beauty and the Beast), and Brightman’s long-time producer Frank Peterson, HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert is a concert DVD that takes these messages and translates them to the stage, delivering an exceptionally inspiring performance right to your home.
Directed by Gerd F. Schultze (Rockpalast 1997, Runrig: Day of Days 2004), the show is split into two acts with a runtime of 97 minutes. Captured from the Festspielhaus in the enchanted Bavarian Alps of Germany, the concert features Brightman accompanied by her band, the Bavarian Philharmonic Orchestra, a 50-voice choir, and the Ludwig Ensemble of dancers. Special guests also appear to perform alongside the lovely Brightman, who puts today’s popstars to shame and makes ten gorgeous and fantastical costume changes throughout.
HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert opens to Act I—The Opera, which goes for beautifully lush theatrical production and costuming worthy of Broadway. Apropos of its name, “Gothica” introduces the spectacle and paves the way for Brightman to take the stage like a true queen—complete with lavish crown—for “Fleurs Du Mal.” With exquisite costuming that helps to create a Medieval fantasy, the show takes flight alongside the beloved soprano’s flawless vocals.
Highlights include “Carpe Diem,” featuring Greek Vocalist and theatrical Actor Mario Frangoulis, whose smooth tenor complements Brightman flawlessly. This leads to the beautifully intimate moment of “Anytime Anywhere,” which sees the first costume change of many as Brightman and her ladies-in-waiting rule the stage. Then, the mesmerizing aesthetics reach their height in “Beautiful.” Here, Brightman gets to channel her inner fairy queen as she stands on the edge of a pond built right into the stage (yes, a pond), adorned in a nature-inspired crown and shimmering gown. This is accentuated perfectly by the wonderfully artistic work of Director of Photography Ben Busch who brings the serenity of the softly undulating water to life, providing an immaculate complement to Miss Brightman’s magical vocals.
The ladies then slip into the sea for the beautiful visuals of “Follow Me.” Arguably one of the concert’s biggest show-stoppers, “Who Wants To Live Forever” allows Brightman to step to center stage where her voice soars toward the heavens. This leads to the elegant simplicity of “Tu Che M’Hai Preso Il Cuor,” and ultimately the breathtaking “Miracle,” which features Japanese superstar Pianist Yoshiki.
If you prefer a straightforward concert experience, fear not: Act II—The Concert is for you. With the orchestra, band and choir as her backdrop, Brightman delves into an eclectic array of material as, for the first time, we see the crowd. Highlights include the titular “Hymn” with its powerful religiosity and epic choruses. French Pop Opera Tenor Vincent Niclo joins Brightman for two tracks, one of which is a personal favorite of the soprano, the beautifully delicate “There For Me.”
Brightman steps into the spotlight once more for the joyful “Better Is One Day,” allowing the choir to shine alongside her awe-inspiring vocals. Meanwhile, Classical compositions such as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” are a staple of Brightman’s exceptional oeuvre, and for this particular performance she is joined by talented Romanian Vocalist Narcis. Then, she amps up the pace for “Fly To Paradise,” which creates a bold wall of sound before its dramatic conclusion.
As the concert begins to wind to its epic finale, Brightman takes to the piano for a show-stopping delivery of “Time To Say Goodbye,” and receives a standing ovation for her efforts. Of course, Phantom of the Opera will always call her name to mind, and to represent the musical she delivers a hauntingly wonderful performance of the titular track alongside Frangoulis. Broadway fans are apt to be thrilled by the pair’s delivery, which earns them a standing ovation. While ending with “Time To Say Goodbye” might have been more fitting, Brightman instead closes out the entire concert with the mesmerizing “Sky and Sand” off Hymn.
A 15-track CD accompanies the packaging and contains highlights from the concert. However, fans should also know that the Blu-ray and DVD contain bonus features, including a 14-minute behind-the-scenes look at the concert and its creation; a personal sit down with Brightman to discuss the birth of the album Hymn; a track by track review of the album with Brightman and Peterson; as well as a photo slideshow of the behind-the-scenes preparation and delivery of the concert. There are subtitles available in English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
All of this said, throughout the entirety of HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert several things are clear, and the first is that there is an obvious reason for Brightman’s worldwide success. An exceptionally gifted soprano, her vocal performance is incomparable, while her costuming is always elegant and classy. Additionally, the concert film’s artful take on its cinematography enhances the beauty and grandeur of all that is happening on stage, amplifying the artfulness and always capturing the passionate fire inside Brightman’s eyes. While some are apt to prefer the dramatic theatrics and others the “simple” concert footage, HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert brilliantly offers both aspects of this legendary artist for your consumption.
Designing her own world of castles and fantasy with her epic vocals, Brightman takes her fans on an exquisitely magical journey through the record Hymn and beyond. With divine costuming and artistic stage production to wonderful guests and classic favorite songs, HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert is apt to thrill any of Brightman’s legion of fans across the world. Helmed by the voice of an angel and with so much packed inside, the stunning visuals of this concert film are the perfect gift to fans this holiday season. For this, Cryptic Rock give HYMN: Sarah Brightman In Concert 5 of 5 stars.