I just got my concert DVD!! I was literally jumping for joy when my dad brought it home.
I'm listening to it right now and it is beyond beautiful. And it also moves me to apologise. If I ever said Hayley does not sing with emotion, I take it back. While her CDs may not convey as much emotion, live and in concert, she puts a lot of feeling into her songs. It is really amazing to behold. So, if I ever posted here that Hayley Westenra sings without emotion -- as I'm sure I have -- I was very wrong. Sorry!
Now, back to my DVD!
*** Away on "holiday" (a.k.a. swamped with homework!). Will be back soon! ***
I'm glad you enjoy Hayley's DVD, and I would love to know what you think of all the bonus features.
I can confirm from personal experience that the DVD is the next best thing to seeing Hayley live in concert. Her stage presence adds so much to the enjoyment of her performance, as compared with listening to her on CD. Now if only I could jump into the TV set and meet her! i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif
Whoa, I didn't even realise how many exclamation marks I put in my title! That's how exceited I was .
The DVD had exceeded all my expectations. In fact, I prefer the live versions of the songs to the ones I have on CD. My favourites are How Many Stars, May It Be, and Down To The River; and I also enjoy Wuthering Heights, Across the Universe of Time, Never Say Goodbye and Mary Did You Know, which, in my opinion, are better than the album versions.
The two songs I had in mind when I said I might guess your favourites were both listed in your favourite three before you added 'I Dreamed A Dream' which, I agree, is lovely. The two I expected were 'May It Be' and 'Down To The River' which seem to be very popular with so many people.
How many times have you watched it so far?
You are right about the number of exclamation marks in your title - there weren't enough!!!!!!!!!!
On my review of Odyssey, Roger praised me for writing a balanced review to “counteract my ever-rapturous praise of everything Hayley does.” Well, Roger, I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you here, because this DVD is as close to perfection as a piece of music can get. There is nothing I would change on it; no critisism. From the technical details -- costume, lighting, filming -- to the magical voice, this is probably the best thing Hayley has ever released.
The DVD begins with a Maori dance and choral performance that gives meaning to the title Live From New Zealand. Hayley has travelled far and wide, but she hasn’t forgotten her roots; and the dance group adds a nice touch of “home” to the concert. After 3 minutes, Hayley enters in a beautiful beige gown and sings her signature song Pokarekare Ana, with a new depth to her voice that I didn’t find in Pure. She goes on to perform River of Dreams, looking very fairy-like in the dreamland her singing creates. Next, with minimal accompaniment and perfect control over her voice, she presents the audience with a strong version of In Trutina.
Hayley returns to the stage in a lovely dress of pale green and delivers a very mystical Across the Universe of Time, handling the metaphorical lyrics with lots of feeling. Sophie joins her sister in the choruses, which I think is a very sweet thing for Hayley to do, and one of the most special moments on the DVD.
I’ve gushed over May it Be on Odyssey, and I’m going to praise it even more here. Wonderfully sylph-like against a video of lovely landscape scenery, she does indeed ‘find her way’ into the hearts of her listeners
As the orchestra plays the opening notes of Beat of Your Heart, Hayley emerges from a cloud of stage smoke in a very elegant blue-green dress. This section of the show is, in my opinion, the strongest, with her voice sounding fuller and more intense than ever. She goes on to sing Aria with wonderful poise, and adds a lot more feeling to Who Painted the Moon Black than the album version had.
Halfway through the DVD comes one of its highest points -- How Many Stars. Teddy Tahu Rhodes’s deep, soulful voice does not overpower Hayley as she sings the Oriental melody with almost a sense of desperation, in a “belty” vocal style I never knew she could do.
Hayley comes back on stage in a nice black dress and sings three Christian pieces -- an English version Ave Maria, with which she seems to have a better connection than the traditional Latin lyrics; an uplifting, slightly bluesy Down to the River; and skilfully blends these two unique pieces into a rendition of the traditional Amazing Grace. Singing these with the choirs establishes a wonderful spiritual atmosphere in the theatre, where Hayley looks very much at ease.
In a lovely dark blue gown, Hayley sings the powerful, victorious Benedictus; and, changing into a stylish black dress, a jazzy version of the Christmas carol, Mary Did You Know. I would have slowed down the tempo a bit on it, but it’s one of my favourites. She performs Both Sides Now with a lot of feeling, in particular, making the last verse very believable. Regretful to be leaving soon, she treats the audience to the wistful but hopeful Never Say Goodbye, much more dimensional than the rather plain album version. I was feeling rather sad by this time, but Hayley lifted my spirits with the awesome Wuthering Heights. I wasn’t sure how well she would do this one live, as the album version undergoes much processing to make it what it is. However, she energized the audience with a perfect rendition of the piece, that fit the mood of the novel better than the track on Pure.
To end the show, Hayley come onstage with Teddy and sang a moving duet of the lullaby Hine E Hine. Her voice soared powerfully but gently, bidding farewell to the hundreds of loyal Kiwi followers that were so proud of their young songbird.
And, with some lovely music set to NZ scenery, the credits rolled across the screen, leaving me sad, but very satisfied with the world’s finest voice. Everything about this DVD was perfect -- emotion, stage presence, costumes, and the voice.
The bonus features include a wonderful documentary on Hayley with some really insightful interviews from her, her family, and her teacher (and includes a nice clip of her busking); a 10-mintue video on New Zealand featuring some absolutely gorgeous scenery; a music video for Pokarekare Ana, which I love; a very moving video of I Dreamed a Dream from Russell Watson’s DVD; and two picture galleries which I really enjoyed watching.
It’s absolutely perfect.
*** Away on "holiday" (a.k.a. swamped with homework!). Will be back soon! ***
I may have praised you for your earlier well-balanced review of Odyssey but I think even higher praise is due for your highly favorable review of the DVD. The only thing wrong with it is the fact that you began by apologising for its length! No apology is necessary for, like the DVD, your review was lovely. Thank you for posting it.
I'm glad you got the DVD, Oksana. Isn't it great?!
I really need to get mine out. It's in a DVD player that is not plugged in, so I can't get it out. Actually, I have no clue where that thing is, so I couldn't get it out if I tried. I really need to find it, though. Because as it has been said before, it's the next best thing to attending a live concert!
- Cathleen -
'Majesty, majesty Your grace has found me just as I am Empty-handed but alive in Your hands Majesty, majesty Forever I am changed by Your love In the presence of Your majesty'
Many thanks for your brilliant review, I was replaying the DVD in my mind while I was reading it!
I've just realised that the DVD has one advantage over seeing Hayley live in concert. I always feel a little sad when a concert finishes, but when the DVD ends I can pick up the remote control, click on "Play Concert" and watch it all over again! i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif