from “The Christmas Album” by Aled Jones
featuring Hayley Westenra
as “Pokarekare Ana” will always be special to me because
it was the first song I ever heard Hayley sing, so will
“Silent Night” because that was the first song I ever
heard her sing live. It was at the concert for Amnesty
International in Trafalgar Square, London – exactly
one year ago tomorrow.
bought Aled’s “The Christmas Album” simply for the third
track on which Hayley guests. Many have said that Hayley
has the “voice of an angel”. I have avoided that expression
– until now. There is simply no other way of describing
her exquisite voice as she sings the first verse solo
to the gentle accompaniment of a harp. Hayley’s voice
is even more crystal clear than ever before and just
too lovely for words. Every note is a work of great
beauty; so peaceful, so serene – so “pure”. Her expression
is perfect throughout and her gentleness and grace shine
verses, we hear the lilting notes from a flute before
Aled takes over the lead for the second verse. His voice
is a perfect compliment to Hayley’s. I have always believed
that he is, perhaps, the ideal vocal partner for her.
They have performed together in the past but this is
the first commercially available recording of them together
to my knowledge. I now know that I was right. His rich
but gentle tone is so majestic, so tranquil, so ideal
the second verse, more instruments join in; the use
of the oboe being particularly effective. Was it planned
that the sweetness of the flute is to Hayley what the
reedier sound of the oboe is to Aled? Who knows, but
the result is magical.
backed by the English Session Orchestra (who toured
with Hayley during her recent “Winter Tour”), we come
to the third verse which you just know is going to feature
them both. It does. Aled maintains the lead while Hayley
begins with a low and hauntingly beautiful harmony.
During the course of the verse, her vocal gradually
ascends towards the upper extreme of her register and
its beauty is absolutely breathtaking. The overall effect
is further enriched by the backing vocals from Libera.
perhaps the best loved of all Christmas songs, truly
encapsulates the spirit of Christmas. And the memory
of that heavenly day when I first saw (and met) Hayley
has been captured forever in this gorgeous rendition.
This, surely the best ever arrangement and the finest
performance of “Silent Night”, is utterly spellbinding.
Thank you Hayley; thank you Aled. You have already made
5th December 2004