The family of ‘Britain’s most successful album act before the Beatles’, conductor, composer and arranger Mantovani, and his longtime record label Decca, are to release a brand new album in which his original orchestral 1950s and ‘60s recordings are remastered and reimagined with new vocals.
The forthcoming album, The Magic of Mantovani, will be released on Decca Classics on 25th September 2020, and features one of today’s most acclaimed and sought-after singers, the award-winning Maltese tenor, Joseph Calleja. This new release follows Calleja’s biggest success to date, Be My Love – a Tribute to Mario Lanza, another dreamy nostalgia trip through the orchestral hits of the 1950s.
To mark Father’s Day, Decca released the iconic anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, famous with fans of musical theatre and football alike. Rogers & Hammerstein’s 1945 ballad is transformed by Calleja’s vibrant vocals, perfectly supported by the sweeping crescendos of Mantovani’s original orchestra.
Family features heavily in the many volumes of photographs held by the Mantovani estate. Reflecting on his upbringing, Mantovani’s son Kenneth says, “My father was very much a family man despite the glamourous professional life that he led, and he was very modest about his success. He had a wonderfully gentle sense of humour which endeared him to all he met. Both he and my mother created an extremely happy life for my sister, Paula and myself, welcoming my wife and Paula’s husband into the fold. When a new recording was released, he was always keen to play it to us and to seek our reactions! I feel very grateful that we had such a happy upbringing and delighted we are still able to enjoy his beautiful music, particularly now with the new Joseph Calleja collaboration.”
In a year which marks 40 years since Mantovani’s untimely death in March 1980, and 80 years since he signed to Decca, his trademark “cascading” strings sound led to the star being the first artist ever recording artist to sell over 1 million stereo albums. Recorded before the COVID-19 outbreak, true to style on Decca original 1950s microphones, Calleja’s “outstanding” (Guardian) and “timelessly beautiful voice” (The i) breathes new life into what became known as the famous ‘Mantovani sound’ with abiding favourites such as ‘Moon River’, ‘Que Sera’ and ‘Strangers in the Night’.
Mantovani’s career was defined by No. 1 records: ‘Charmaine’, his signature track, was his first single to sell 1 million copies and his hits included ‘Cara Mia’ which spent 10 weeks at No.1 in the UK Singles Chart. But it is the incredible catalogue of over 80 albums made across four decades and coinciding with the birth of the long-playing record which propelled Mantovani to global superstar status and over 100 million record sales.
The magical, “shimmering” effect was achieved with a full-size orchestra, warmed by the resonance of Decca’s new ‘Full Frequency Range Recording’. Huge international record sales and a weekly radio programme installed the hallmark Mantovani orchestral sound into millions of homes. To mark his 25th anniversary with Decca, in 1966, as well as his 60th birthday, the company presented him with a solid gold baton.
This new release features a special guest appearance by Grammy award-winning American soprano Renée Fleming in ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story. The release introduces Operalia-winning Italian-Canadian mezzo Emily D’Angelo in ‘I Feel Pretty’ and the duet ‘Tonight’ with Calleja.
More than any other musician in history, Mantovani took the genre of light orchestral music to unprecedented heights. Now, the magic of Mantovani is back with one of the most celebrated tenors of the 21st century giving the iconic orchestral arrangements a fresh, new sound.