Editor's note: Instead of a book review this week, we have provided a critique of the CD, Amore Infinito.
The newly released Amore Infinito by Deutsche Grammophon, with lyrics from the poems of the late Pope John Paul II was created by the great tenor Plàcido Domingo with his son Plàcido Domingo Jr., who even composed some of the songs. Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Vanessa Williams, and Katherine Jenkins sing duets with the great Tenor. Obviously the names of these giants in the pop and classical genre are meant to appeal to all music listeners.
The poems themselves are beautiful. The poem Madre is especially touching. Written about Karol Wojtyla’s own mother whom had died when he was very young, it gives the reader a sense of the grief and love he deeply had for her.
The music itself is reminiscent of Italian love ballads. But this reviewer finds that the abundance of percussion and orchestral instrumentation give the songs a lot of schmaltz. The choice of Vanessa Williams for the song Gratitude was poor. Having a great opera singer sing with this pop star is similar to having Minnie Mouse sing with Frank Sinatra: it’s an aural headache.
For this reviewer only two of the tracks are noteworthy: La Libertà and Love. La Libertà is well written for Maestro Domingo. Considering his age and conducting engagements at Los Angeles Opera and other opera houses, his vocal instrument is still top-notch. The power and beauty he puts into each vocal line makes the listener forget the troubles of this world.
Love is sung with Maestro Domingo’s son and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. The music of this piece adds so much more to the lyrics. The use of the children chorus expresses a purity and innocence of love that Pope John Paul II so often wrote and talked about. Beautifully sung and composed, this reviewer thinks it’s the center piece of the entire album.
Giving credit to Maestro Domingo, this album is his way of giving recognition to this great Pontiff and the beautiful poetry he has written.
This album embodies what Pope John Paul II wanted musicians and artists to express in this anti-cultural world in which we live:
"‘From chaos there rises the world of the spirit.’ These words of Adam Mickiewicz, written at a time of great hardship for his Polish homeland, prompt my hope for you: may your art help to affirm that true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the human soul to the sense of the eternal." John Paul II, Letter to Artists, April 4, 1999.