Rufus Wainwright: Take All My Loves – 9 Shakespeare Sonnets | Virgin Media
Rufus Wainwright: Take All My Loves – 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

Rufus Wainwright: Take All My Loves – 9 Shakespeare SonnetsAlbum review by Ian Gittins | Rating: ★★★★☆

22/04/2016

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If music be the food of love, Rufus Wainwright would… pig out, as usual.

A noted maximalist, Wainwright's idiosyncratic career to date has included an overblown stage and record tribute to Judy Garland, and penning a crowd-funded opera in 2015's Prima Donna. So why on Earth would he not record an album of interpretations of Shakespearean sonnets?

To mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, Take All My Loves sees the never understated Wainwright put together a distinctly maverick cast of names to tackle some of his greatest sonnets. Winningly, he is true both to his material and to his own extravagant nature.

Wainwright clearly regards himself as primarily the project's musical director and does very little singing: the most prominent vocal by far is the stentorian falsetto of Austrian opera singer Anna Prohaska. Her rich, emphatic tones provide much-needed ballast for Wainwright's camply yearning piano-led pieces.

Zayn: Mind Of Mine

There are actorly readings of sonnets by thespian luminaries as various as Helena Bonham-Carter, Carrie Fisher and, splendidly, William Shatner, whose fruity, savouring-the-words-in-his-mouth renditions of Sonnets 10 and 11 remind you that he is a performer who also knows a little about the concept of camp.

The chamber music is carefully genteel, and when Wainwright's sister Martha and Tasmanian singer Fiora Cutler join him on the propulsive art-rock of Unperfect Actor, it provides a welcome variety of tone. Florence Welch is uncharacteristically restrained on When In Disgrace With Fortune And Men's Eyes, for once sounding in thrall to the song rather than bellowing it from the nearest mountaintop.

The baroque tragi-comedy of All Dessen Müd veers near to Tiger Lillies-style Brechtian cabaret, but Wainwright's gorgeous velvet croon on A Woman's Face shows how good it would be to hear more of him here. So wherefore art thou, Ruf-io?

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