The British baritone's operatic heft is appreciated.I'm still waiting for Cecilia Bartoli to make a recording date with Andre Rieu or Angela Hewitt to ride the boogie-woogie train but, nevertheless, there is a steady trickle of traffic on Crossover Highway.

Only the masochistically inclined should search out the treacle-drenched soundtrack to Summer in February, written by Benjamin Wallfisch, son of cellist Raphael. Lauded as "heartbreakingly beautiful" by the Hollywood News, my soul was saddened to hear Yuja Wang, a pianist whose fingers usually roam in more illustrious musical glades, twiddling over the ivories here.

Also disappointing is 1865, by American vocal quartet Anonymous 4. These four women are best known for a catalogue of mediaeval and Renaissance music stretching back for almost a quarter-century. Despite plump packaging -- including an evocatively-illustrated (and miserably-bound) 82-page booklet -- this collection of songs from the Civil War is too rarified by far.

An acappella Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, definitely a man's song if ever there was, is too flutey-toned and precious by far.


Bruce Molsky's baritone, along with his fiddle, banjo and guitar, fleshes out the palette, but not enough to fire up Stephen Foster's Hard times come again no more for me. Check out Thomas Hampson's 1992 Foster album, with Jay Ungar and others, or sample a genuine home-style parlour singalong with the Canadian McGarrigle Sisters -- their 1998 The McGarrigle Hour is recommended.

Something's Gotta Give, Simon Keenlyside's new clutch of Broadway and movie songs, is immensely enjoyable. The British baritone's operatic heft is appreciated in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Soliloquy, and Lionel Bart's Reviewing the Situation has the perfect kosher Cockney branding.

Only in the title number and Cole Porter's Night and Day does Keenlyside fail to match the artful casualness of Fred Astaire.

Bonuses here include sparkling original orchestrations (by Robert Russell Bennett and others), brilliantly delivered by the BBC Concert Orchestra under David Charles Abell. And how pleasant it is to be reminded of the superb When did I fall in love?, from the 1959 musical Fiorello, by the persuasive and fresh-voiced soprano Scarlett Strallen.

Summer in February
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Anonymous 4, 1865
(Harmonia Mundi)

Simon Keenlyside, Something's Gotta Give

Verdict: Mixed success in latest toll on Crossover Highway.