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A Royal Tribute

Notes & Reviews:

One of countless albums associated with Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding to be released before the big day, this 15-track collection is perhaps the most authentic of them all, thanks to the presence of the Band of the Welsh Guards, who will be serenading the newlyweds as they arrive at Buckingham Palace shortly after the ceremony. Unsurprisingly, A Royal Tribute, produced by Nick Patrick (Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson) and conducted by Major Stephen Barnwell, doesn't feature the familiar disco staples of most weddings, but instead focuses on the traditional military numbers that feature links to both Prince William's royal status and his Welsh title. There are century-old marches such as John Philip Sousa's 1888 "Semper Fidelis," the Welsh Regimental march, "Men of Harlech," and Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance"; stirring renditions of national anthems from Wales ("Land of My Fathers") and the U.K. ("God Save the Queen," as featured in "The Royal Salute"), and pieces with historical Royal connotations such as the patriotic "God Bless the Prince of Wales," performed at King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark's marriage in 1863, and Jeremiah Clarke's "The Prince of Denmark's March," performed at Prince Charles and Lady Diana's iconic wedding in 1981. In addition to several appearances by the Treorchy Male Voice Choir, the youngest of five bands in the Foot Guards Regiments are also a joined by a host of guest artists. Go Compare advert star Wynne Evans lends his operatic tones to a medley of Welsh national songs ("The Royal Crown"); The Choir of Westminster Abbey, the only other official performers on the day, appear on Charles Wesley's Christian hymn, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," and Aberystwyth soprano Gwawr Edwards contributes to an emotive interpretation of Welsh lullaby "Suo Gan," but it's the presence of Hollywood actor Michael Sheen that provides the most intrigue on his recital of an excerpt from Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood," played over traditional folk song "Ar Hyd y Nos" ("All Through the Night"). Elsewhere, there's a surprising inclusion from James Horner's Braveheart soundtrack ("For the Love of a Princess"); Clare Grundmans medley of Welsh folk songs ("A Welsh Rhapsody"), and of course, the "Fanfare Royale." With the majority of its track list expected to be performed on April 29, 2011, A Royal Tribute is an essential musical souvenir of the historic day which is bound to be lapped up by any self-respecting Royalist. ~ Jon O'Brien


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