The Great American Songbook
Camilla Nylund (soprano)
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Marin Alsop
André Heller, Artistic Director
Robert Neumüller, Film Director
Filmed 2021, Studio 3, ORF RadioKulturhaus, Vienna, Austria
Includes bonus CD of the performances
Naxos 2.110747 DVD [56]

Multimedia artist André Heller is the artistic director for a new concert film project featuring 13 selections from the Great American Songbook, performed by Finnish opera star Camilla Nylund and the ORF Vienna Radio Orchestra, led by Marin Alsop.  The tunes were specifically arranged for Camilla by Florian Sitzmann, Christof Unterberger, and Leonard Eröd. and the performances were recorded in Vienna during September 2021, captured on both CD and DVD.

The song selections are primarily slow-tempo ballads; a mix of well-known standards and show tunes, composed by some of the best in the business.  One of the earliest is the bluesy Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1927 musical Showboat, and features Camilla and the accomplished pianist Florian Sitzmann.  Another gem from the same year is the Gershwin classic The Man I Love, which appeared in the musical Strike Up the Band.  Camilla is accompanied by piano and tenor sax in a fine arrangement that showcases her beautiful singing voice, precise diction and breath control. Her singing style is very expressive, full of artistic nuances, intonation and dynamic phrasing. They are fully displayed in the charming Falling in Love Again, where Camilla is accompanied by the lush, colorful harmonies of six cellos. The song was written by composer Friedrich Hollaender and lyricist Sammy Lerner for the 1930 film The Blue Angel.  Friedrich also wrote the song Illusions, a dreamy cabaret piece arranged for Camilla and piano, accordion and saxophone. The tune originally appeared in the 1948 film A Foreign Affair.

The Book of Love is a pop ballad written by Stephen Merritt and first recorded in 1999.  The arrangement is stately and majestic, and features an organ solo and the outstanding Vienna Boys Choir.  One of my favorites tunes on this disc is the Gershwin classic They Can’t Take That Away From Me, made famous in the 1937 film Shall We Dance.  Camilla performs with the group Fagotes Locos, a talented bassoon quartet, and their up-tempo accompaniment sparkles and swings with deep and sonorous harmonies.  The performances were filmed in black and white, and the DVD features many close-ups and camera shots of the various musicians during the songs, and fades out at the end of the numbers.  The DVD has a 34 second musical opening which is labeled as track 1, and a closing track 15 for end credits. A 16-page booklet is included with commentary by André Heller in English and German.  The sound quality is excellent.

Bruce McCollum

Help us financially by purchasing from

Presto Music

Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye   Cole Porter
What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?   Michel Legrande, Alan and Marilyn Bergman
The Man I Love   George and Ira Gershwin
If I Loved You   Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II
Falling in Love Again   Friedrich Hollaender, Sammy Lerner
I’ll Be Seeing You   Sammy Fain, Irvin Kahal
When I Fall in Love   Victor Young, Edward Heyman
They Can’t Take That Away From Me    George and Ira Gershwin 
Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man   Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II
The Book of Love   Stephin Merritt
September Song   Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson
Illusions     Friedrich Hollaender
For All We Know   John Frederick Coots, Sam M. Lewis

Other performers
Wiener Sängerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir), Gerald Wirth (artistic director)
Fagotes Locos: David Seidel, Marcelo Padilla, Marin Machovits, Leonard Eröd (bassoon)
Bertl Mayer (harmonica), Alvaro Pierri (guitar), Gerald Preinfalk (saxophone),
Helmut Stippich (accordion), Florian Sitzmann (piano, keyboard, organ)
Goran Kostić (double bass), Anna Verkholantseva (harp)
Tomáš Bumbál, Mario Gheorghiu (viola)
Julia Schreyvogel, Solveig Nordmeyer, Raffael Dolezal, Till-Georg Schüssler,
Katharina Steininger, Peter Wolf (cello)

Technical information
NTSC 16:9; PCM stereo; Region 0
Subtitles: German, Japanese and Korean