Eileen Mager - Reviews

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Christmas Treasures - Christmasreviews.com
Eileen Mager, Ellen Brown (piano)

Looking for something classic, but different? You may well be looking for Christmas Treasures: Wonderful carols you never knew. The artists are Eileen Mager, an impeccably trained soprano, and Ellen Brown, whose accompaniment is equally important to the success of this disc.

True to the title, this charming recording is chock full of holiday numbers that are complete unknowns. Oh, there are a few ringers in the group; most of us probably know Fum, Fum, Fum!, for example, but the vast majority will have listeners scratching their heads. There is tremendous value in the variety here.

Eileen Mager is an accomplished soprano with a light, effortless voice. Her tones are gentle, but emotional, and never overbearing. By recording over the tracks, Mager creates lovely duets with herself on several numbers.

Accompanist Ellen Brown is quite the chameleon-like magician, working a digital keyboard to mimic a wide range of instruments. She arranged many of the numbers here, and the arrangements are excellent. The instrumentation is its own special delight; the mood changes with each number to reflect the style and origins of each piece. Brown's support truly enhances and showcases Mager's voice.

Christmas Treasures is quite the international affair. The smorgasbord includes carols that are 14th century Latin, traditional Spanish, Provençal, Glatz folk, traditional French, traditional Catalonian, 16th century German, traditional Galician, Chinese, American Negro spiritual, Polish, Scottish, Puerto Rican, etc., etc. One very nice touch is that Mager sings almost all foreign numbers in a mix of English and the original tongue, providing a more meaningful connection for her English-speaking audience. The arrangements and accompaniment are geared to reflect the unique culture associated with each cut.

The album opens with the sound of church bells, which created a "George Bailey" moment for me. I could just picture George running through the streets of Bedford Falls at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life." My favorite tracks include Las Posadas, which is all-too-brief, but is fun, bright, and beautiful; and the last two numbers, which close the album especially well. Still, Still, Still is tender and warm; Fum! Fum! Fum! uses castanets and a spirited "duet" to good effect.

Christmas Treasures provides a fun exploration of relatively untapped holiday offerings, and the journey does yield some fascinating finds. Have a good trip.

Broadway: Love and Laughter - TheCelebrityCafe.com
Eileen Mager, Ellen Brown (piano)
Just the voice and piano, but done perfectly well. A great compilation of your favorite songs sung by Eileen and played by Ellen. It has a great selection of tunes like, "If I Were a Bell," "I Feel Pretty," "How Long Has This Been Going On?" and "But Not For Me." The combination of voice and piano without any overproduction is very relaxing and refreshing. A great gift for any Broadway fan!

Classic French Songs - review by William Gregory, On the Turntable
Eileen Mager

Eileen Mager's talent is a familiar one. She is no far-fetching Diva who sets up on a pedestal above reproach. Ms. Mager is the girl next door who fins a song for every occasion, whether it be "Agitato da due Venti" from Vivaldi's La Griselda, from her Vivaldi a Due Voce album, or "Ne Me Quitte Pas" by Jacques Brel, from this Classic French Songs recording, and everything in between. Classic French Songs is a delectable collection of musical petits bijoux, made up from songs of Debussy, Duparc, Ferre, Brel and a trove of other French Masters of the chanson. Many other recent French chanson collections of merit come to mind, but Ms. Mager's recording is something special. Her timbre and resonance give these musical morsels a patina that is difficult to duplicate. You know when those fools on the Antiques road show take in a beautiful piece of furniture or pottery that they decide to "beautify" or "polish" by making it "look new again", only to find out that they have completely devalued the piece? Ms. Mager's voice has such a patina, and it shoots straight through to the heart of these french songs, or maybe I should say Freedom songs. But seriously, this is especially clear on "Les Feuilles Mortes", aka "Autumn Leaves", "Blues", "Paris Canaille" and "Ne Me Quitte Pas", aka "If you go away". Few singers are as emotionally invested in their mots, words, as much as Ms. Mager is. She sings with life, death, love, blood and scar. There is no easy way to sing these songs, one must wear life's scars proudly, and Ms. Mager does.

Broadway: Love and Laughter
Eileen Mager, Ellen Brown (piano)
This versatile singer has been featured On the Turntable before, and this time around she's tackling the Broadway footlights and its music. So many operatic singers have "crossed over" by now that it has become de riguer for any classical or operatic singer to follow suit. Unfortunately this venture does not always bode well for the listener. Thankfully, Ms. Mager is not one of these culpable singers. Ms. Mager manages never to forsake her operatic training while "listening" to the composer's true intent. I can only think of a handful of operatic singers who have successfully made this transition, Eileen Farrell being one of them, in case some of you don't know who that is, trust me it's very good company to keep. The problem usually lies in the placement of the tone, head, chest, throat, etc. Ms. Mager knows when to have fun with the material as on "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" or on "I Can Cook, Too". Her operatic training is never far out of reach as on "I Hate Men", and then she is capable of breaking our hearts, as she does on "Losing My Mind". I am as dubious and cynical as the next musical theater fan when it comes to "trained singers", but Eileen Mager deserves your full attention when it comes to any genre of music.


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