Author

Scott Paulin

Musician-performance artist Laurie Anderson’s early indelible experiments still surprise with each precisely calculated drawl, but her subsequent flirtation with pop made for strange bedfellows. The double disc Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson Anthology sifts through two decades of recordings for an evenhanded career survey, ending with her welcome return to minimalist gestures and wry narratives. Her chief gifts may be for spectacle and story, but the music itself is sometimes brilliant, only occasionally lackluster. B+

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Crossover phenomenon Andrea Bocelli understands that romantic melody is the essence of Verdi’s arias, and the tenor has a strong enough technique (and clarion high notes) to handle most of the challenges. He scores points for bravery in this ambitious set of 15 popular opera excerpts. The greats may have sung Verdi with more imagination and variety, but many a ”real” opera singer has done the composer less justice. B

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