I am one of millions of Brits who grew up with The Sound of Music as the most important film of their childhood. When I look back, I have no idea why that film and not another? Except that, if The Sound of Music was coming on TV, my parents and I would get snacks and drinks and settle down for a three-hour watch. Every time.
Decades later and, even though I haven’t seen The Sound of Music for at least 20 years, I still know the words to every song. I can still visualize every major scene. And Julie Andrews as Maria will always be the iconic performance of my life.
So, when I first heard Austrian singer Conchita was releasing an album with the Wiener Symphoniker (Vienna Symphony to you non-German speakers) that would include her version of ‘The Sound of Music‘, I have to say I was a bit perturbed.
Because, sure, Conchita is my first love when it comes to artists I adore.
But to have her, (in reality a 29-year-old man), sing ‘The Sound of Music‘ in what could possibly be a falsetto that was too thin and reedy to reach those high notes with any kind of power and, thus, stomp on my childhood memory of just how that song must be sung, I’ve got to say I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that.
Because, when it comes to ‘The Sound of Music‘, there are just some songs you don’t mess with.
Of course, I needn’t have worried as, in true Conchita style, everything she does is pulled off beautifully. And Conchita singing ‘The Sound of Music‘ accompanied by the Wiener Symphoniker is no exception. As you will hear in the video below.
Because she not only does sing the song in a somewhat operatic falsetto quite a bit outside of her normal range, but that falsetto is deliciously soft yet strong, incredibly rich and really quite beautiful.
The Dorothee Freiberger arrangement of the song is pretty, and I love how the track has been mixed so that Conchita comes in quite softly to begin with. An intro that, at first listen, seemed to have that massive orchestra slightly overshadowing her.
In subsequent listenings, however, you realize it actually gives a lovely ethereal yet rich quality to the Austrian singer’s voice and to the song, as the orchestra is more wrapped around her voice than sitting underneath it. Particularly as Conchita’s voice then grows in strength as the song progresses.
But what is truly wonderful about this version of ‘The Sound of Music‘ is how Conchita handles that huge high note that is the centerpiece of this iconic song.
A note that, if you start out in a high falsetto, you either have to be able to get that falsetto a lot higher to hit that note, and few people can do that well, or switch vocal registers somewhere right before it.
A switch that could endanger the smoothness of the entire song, and make the singer, (in this case Conchita) sound like she is out of her depth.
Of course, Conchita chose to switch her vocal register right at “To sing through the night”, and so hit that enormous note in her usual register soon after equally powerfully and beautifully.
But what is the thing of utter utter beauty here is not just Conchita’s high note itself, but how she so smoothly melds her normal register back into that falsetto again just a hair’s breadth later, and then ends the song the same way she started. All done as smooth as silk, and without a pause in her vocals at all.
‘The Sound of Music‘ is from the upcoming album From Vienna With Love. An album Conchita is releasing along with the Wiener Symphoniker. An orchestra that, as this song alone shows, well deserves its world-renowned reputation as one of the best symphony orchestras you will hear.
From Vienna With Love is due to be released in October, 2018, but you can currently pre-order it and get the download of ‘The Sound of Music‘ immediately from one of these links.
If you would like to hear Conchita sing ‘The Sound of Music‘ live, she will be performing songs from the album with the Wiener Symphoniker and her band on October 20th in a gala concert at the Wiener Konzerthaus here in Vienna. You can buy tickets via the Wiener Syphoniker’s website.
Now listen to Conchita and the Wiener Symphoniker performing ‘The Sound of Music’ in the video below. It really is just lovely.
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