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Just Before Sunrise

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Aug. 7 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Canada
  • ASIN: B000PC8AG4
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,103 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Just Before Sunrise
2. The Briar And the Rose
3. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
4. In the Dark Pine-Wood
5. It Feels Like Home
6. Say Anything
7. Time
8. The Dance Of Love
9. And So It Goes
10. Innocent When You Dream
11. The Secret Marriage
12. When You Are Old And Gray
13. Jam Tart
14. The Heart That Flutters
15. I Have Loved Hours At Sea

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f895c0c) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f8b6e34) out of 5 stars A good singer, not quite the right vehicle Aug. 12 2007
By klavierspiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What's Nathan Gunn to do? The baritone has taken the opera world by storm with his deluxe voice and what one reviewer called his "Calvin Klein physique." He's more than earned his artistic stripes with stellar performances in roles from Mozart to Britten. But he'd like to do even more to popularize the art he so obviously loves.

Half a century ago it would have been easy. Gunn's voice, looks and acting chops would have taken him to the movies, in big-budget adaptations of Broadway musicals. But the vehicles that sustained the careers of John Raitt, Howard Keel and Gordon McRae are long gone. Instead, he's issued this CD (not, by the way, his solo debut, which was the admirable "American Anthem" on EMI), which presents fifteen songs of varying popular styles. Although only a few ("Polka Dots and Moonbeams," for example) are what might be called standards, they all end up rather sounding like such on this smoothly sung, elaborately arranged production.

There's no doubt about the continuing allure of Gunn's dark, velvety voice, thoughtfully lightened and made more casual as befits this repertory, or the skill of the many supporting artists involved. Nor can the baritone be accused of condescending to the music: Billy Joel's "And So It Goes" in particular is sung with a touching simplicity. However, ultimately "Just Before Sunrise" doesn't begin to succeed in bridging the current chasm between classical and popular music. Nathan Gunn's fans (of which I am certainly one) will remain loyal, and he might win a few more who also like the popera albums of Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban. I'm still dreaming of a Broadway revival of R & H's "Carousel," in which Gunn would be perfectly cast as Billy Bigelow. Now there would be a real way to broaden his audience. (Incidentally, a bona fide current Broadway star, Kristin Chenoweth, sings a welcome contribution on one track.)
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f8b712c) out of 5 stars The Art of the Gunn Returns Triumphantly to the Popular Genre in an Intimate Setting Aug. 13 2007
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It amazes me that a singer of Nathan Gunn's caliber has taken eight years to follow up on his promising 1999 debut recital disc, American Anthem. In the meantime, he has conquered the world's opera stages in roles as diverse as Guglielmo in Mozart's "Così fan tutte" and Clyde Griffiths in Tobias Picker's adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's "An American Tragedy". On his 2007 recital release, Gunn seems intent on showcasing himself as a throwback to an earlier time when stalwart singers like Howard Keel and Gordon MacRae dominated the type of musical the Hollywood studios have long since forsaken. I don't blame him since his program represents some beautiful, off-the-beaten-path music in a decidedly intimate setting. With his matinee idol looks and strapping physique (used to great advantage in elaborate productions of Benjamin Britten's "Billy Budd" and Sergei Prokofiev's "War and Peace"), Gunn is quite a presence onstage, and his challenge has always been to match that on recordings. Here he succeeds.

The versatile baritone deliberately scales back his sizable voice to fit the warmer contours of these meticulously selected songs. Even though he is quite accomplished in the opera world, there is not a single aria to be heard on this disc. Instead, songs from the likes of Sting (a heartfelt take on "The Secret Marriage" from 1987's Nothing Like the Sun), Billy Joel (the touching "And So It Goes" from 1989's Storm Front), and Tom Waits (the madrigal-like "The Briar and the Rose" and the lithe, rolling waltz of "Innocent When You Dream"), are included here. From his folk-oriented first disc, Gunn returns to the works of composer Gene Scheer for three exceptional compositions - the melodramatic "Say Anything", the cabaret chestnut "Jam Tart", and the comparatively swoon-worthy title tune. Broadway baby Kristin Chenoweth makes a surprisingly supple and compatible duet partner on the snappy and all-too-brief jewel, "It Feels Like Home", by John Bucchino.

Ben Moore, who contributed heavily to soprano Deborah Voight's debut recital disc in 2005, provides the sweeping music for three pieces - the profoundly somber "When You Are Old and Gray" set to a poem by William Butler Yeats and two set to poems by James Joyce, the haunting "In the Dark Pine-Wood" and the quietly majestic "This Heart That Flutters". Gunn's singing is likely at its purest on Joseph Thalken's two unadorned ballads, "Time", written with Barry Kleinbort, and the brief concluding track, "I Have Loved Hours at Sea", written with Sara Teasdale. The singer is at his most uninhibited and animated on Charles Hart and David Cullen's über-romantic "The Dance of Love" and at his relaxed on the cheery Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Burke classic, "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", an unabashedly romantic tribute to his wife. Overall, this may not show off Gunn's vocal talent to its fullest extent, but it does show how comfortable he is in the popular genre without the contrivance one would expect from such an ambitious crossover effort.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f8b736c) out of 5 stars An honest try, but this is pretty square Sept. 29 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
You never know when classical crossover will work and when it won't. Nathan Gunn's voice is as suave and creamy as Thomas Hampson's, and he's nowhere near as mannered as Hampson often is when he attempts Broadway tunes. But somehow this CD doesn't strike sparks, in large part because Gunn is rhythmically stiff and emotionally square. When Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth jumps in for a few bars, one winces at the contrast between her natural feeling for pop and Gunn's bland imitation. I listened to the whole album, but one sample -- Billy Joel's "And So It Goes" --was embarrassing enough to kill all pleasure. Gunn has become the poster boy for "opera singers who go to the gym," but he doesn't play on his sexy media image. If anything, he should. These flat renditions need a lot mroe sexiness than he gives them with vocalism alone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f8b75e8) out of 5 stars This album will grow on you and may well become a favorite of yours. Jan. 4 2013
By efsch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is a rare pleasure to hear a personal collection of well-written songs sung by a well-trained voice, especially after hearing all the off-pitch and over-hyped vocalists who now pass for talent on television and in electronic media.

Nathan Gunn's voice is resonant, unforced, and undamaged, without the wide vibrato and bathos that too often come with opera singers who transition to the intimacy of recorded popular songs.

A rarity, his vocal skill and insightful artistry are ideal for every genre from opera to recital to pop. Add to that an interesting selection of worthwhile but seldom-performed songs, with interpretations marked by wit and wisdom, and you have this album.

"American Anthem," his first collection of songs, was so good that it was revelatory. I now use it as an iconic American gift when traveling abroad.

In comparison, the songs of "Just Before Sunrise" are not as easy to appreciate, but the artistry is just as good, and the songs seem to improve with repeated playing. With time this album may well become one of the favorites in your collection.

His wife, Julie Jordan, also does an excellent job as keyboardist and director of the studio musicians.

To be honest, I prefer solo piano rather than orchestral back-up to most songs (his "American Anthem" album is blessed with wonderful piano arrangements), but the orchestral accompaniment on this album is so good that it adds an extra dimension.

If I had to choose a favorite, it would still be "American Anthem," but this album is far better than almost anything else out there. I only wish he and his wife would make more albums like these two.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f8b7480) out of 5 stars Nathan Gunn Sings June 15 2011
By Dena Segall Ttee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Gunn has a magnificent voice but this cd, at least for me, fell short of bringing forth his personality as well as his voice. I thought it very dull and hope that there are other cd's that show off his talent much better.