Track Listing 1. Pokarekare Ana — 2. River of Dreams (adapted from "Winter") — 3. In Trutina — 4. Across the Universe of Time — 5. May It Be — 6. Beat Of Your Heart — 7. Aria (Cantilena) — 8. Who Painted the Moon Black — 9... more ». How Many Stars? (from "Bombay Dreams")
"This is an immensely enjoyable concert. Hayley Westenra tackles the entire gamut of music from classical, to folk, to bluegrass, to gospel, to pop. And she makes them all sound perfectly delightful. Recorded at St. James Theatre in Wellington NZ in August 2004 after her triumphant international tour, it showcases the talents of a truly gifted young singer who was only 17 years old at the time. By then her CD album had already become the fastest selling debut album in the history of the UK classical charts and had achieved multi-platinum status in both New Zealand and the UK.
It's fitting that Hayley opens and closes her concert with Maori music, something which distinguishes her from other international singers. After a traditional haka greeting delivered by the Te Orowai Maori Dance Group, she launches into "Pokarekare Ana", quite possibly the most well known song to come from New Zealand and the epitome of polynesian music. She ends with one of the most resplendant renditions of "Hine e Hine" (Girl O Girl) I've ever come across, duetting with the baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes (what a gloriously resonant voice) and backed by the heavenly sounding Wellington Cathedral Choir, giving this intimate and heartbreaking old Maori lovesong an almost heroic grandeur. In between is a whole panoply of songs that showcase her amazingly pure and rich soprano voice. I particularly enjoyed "In Trutina" from Orff's "Carmina Burana", and the Cantilena from Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras No.5". There's a lovely version of Enya's "May It Be" from The Lord Of The Rings, accompanied by panoramic vistas of New Zealand. There's gospel music, ranging from the Bluegrass standard, "Down To The River To Pray" (in Alison Krauss' arrangement) to the very traditional and beautifully done "Amazing Grace". "River Of Dreams" is a vocal rendition of the slow movement of Vivaldi's Winter from the Four Seasons while "Never Say Goodbye" is a modern vocal arrangement of Ravel's "Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte". The Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria" is given a modern English translation. And she delivers a lovely rendition of the Joni Mitchell classic "Both Sides Now".
Extras include a 29 min documentary on Hayley, an 11 min tour of New Zealand, titled "100% New Zealand", courtesy of the NZ Tourism Office, with Hayley plugging her hometown Christchurch, a picture gallery accompanied by "Who Painted The Moon Black", a memorabilia slideshow to the accompaniment of "Across The Universe Of Time", the music video of "Pokarekare Ana" and a separate concert recording of Hayley singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserable.
The DVD from Decca is very well done. The main feature is shot in high defintion widescreen 1.78:1 (enhanced for widescreen TV) with the image appearing crystal clear. The Hayley documentary, the "I Dreamed A Dream" concert short, and the picture and memorabilia slideshows are similarly all in anamorphic widescreen. The "Pokarekare Ana" music video and the New Zealand tour are in 1.33:1 fullscreen. The documentary "100% New Zealand" suffers from rather pronounced motion artifacts probably arising from a poor PAL to NTSC conversion. It's a pity because it's a gorgeous travelogue of New Zealand. If LOTR didn't make you want to visit New Zealand, this video surely will. Sound for the concert is in both Linear PCM stereo and Dolby 5.1 Surround. While some may prefer the immersion of the 5.1 surround, take note that the PCM uncompressed sound is of audiophile quality (even better than on CD). An altogether excellent concert on an excellent DVD. No regrets buying this one."
AN ANGEL AT WORK
John A. Jodell | Richfield, MN United States | 04/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AT LAST! A live DVD of Hayley Westenra in concert, shot in her native New Zealand. This is a real treat, as it offers you not only a live performance spotlighting the young beauty and her smooth and alluringly pure voice, but also cameos of her wonderful family and a delicious taste of her rich New Zealand culture. We even get a glimpse of her younger sister Sophie as the two girls sing together on one song. When Hayley Westenra performs, the heavenly angels' jaws drop, and you will see precisely why when you view this DVD. Such simple, natural elegance and complete professionalism are rare for one of such tender years, and it is sheer joy to behold. Your life will be enriched by this performance. Buy this DVD---you will NEVER regret it!"
One word: WOW!
Kyle Y | Toronto, ON CAN | 05/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came home from work today, opened the door, and there it is, my order from Amazon. I ripped the package open to survey my copy of the "Hayley Westenra Live From New Zealand" DVD - I am smiling. I walked over to my 22 month old son, pointing at the DVD, saying, "Hayley, Hayley." He repeats after me, "Ayley...Ayley." My son adores Hayley, but he has never seen her on video. He loosens himself from my wife's grasp, takes the DVD from my hand, and pops it into the dvd player.
The concert starts off (and ends with) the Te Orowai Maori Dance Group. I appreciate this gesture: It shows that Hayley is proud of her country, and the rooted cultures of the land. I fully respect her for this. All three of us are in awe as Hayley steps onto the stage; none of us has ever seen her perform (which leads me to say the I am extremely disappointed that Hayley could not fit Toronto, Canada, into her 2005 concert schedule). I will wait. Now, back to the concert. She has really grown into a gorgeous young woman; she is beautiful, and her attire is glamourous, yet dignified. Her hair flows, her eyes shimmer, and her smile - brilliant. Looking at her body language (it is generally quite simple and static, although with a naturalness) betrays the fact that she is still very young. But I much rather be amused at this, than to see a veteran going through the same rehearsed, often exaggerated motions.
The best part of course, is the singing. I own both "Pure" and Hayley's first self-titled CD (given to me as a gift, and brought home from New Zealand). I will not evaluate all the songs on this DVD, still let me tell you that Hayley sounds significantly better live, than in those CD recordings. What a treat! Her voice has matured over the years (even compared to her recent "Pure" album), gaining a richness and depth in the lower registers, while maintaining that clarity in the upper octaves. There is now a distinct fullness in her voice that I admire.
Carl Orff's "In Trutina" is sung with reverence, and it is my favourite rendition of this classical piece. The "Pure" recording is more intimate and subtle; this concert performance is more vocal and assertive. The tone and quality of her voice allowed her to express the meaning of the lyrics very honestly:
In my own wavering balance Desire fluctuates with modesty But I choose what I see I bow my neck to the yoke For the burden is sweeter after all And so I take it upon me
Hayley sings "Across The Universe of Time" with her little sister, Sophie, which I thought was really sweet. Her rendition of "May It Be" is not as mystical as Enya's, however it is ethereal and powerful altogether. My wife has a fondness for "Who Painted The Moon Black", and I thought Hayley sounded more cute here. "Ave Maria" was a surprise, as it is sung in English and accompanied by a guitarist; I much prefer the Latin version from her first CD. Nevertheless, she sings wonderfully. Ravel's "Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte" is one of my favourite pieces written for the piano; even though "Never Say Goodbye" loses much of the body of the Pavane, it should remain a sentimental favourite, because the basic melody is just so lovely.
The bonus features are generous, including a 30 minute documentary of Hayley, and puts this DVD into the "must own" category. Heck, I would still buy it for the concert performance alone - she is that spectacular. The audio (encoded in PCM Stereo and 5.1 Dolby Surround) and video (in widescreen format) is first rate. Buy it now!
A Sweet Caress to the Soul
Holger Wemmer | Altdorf, Germany | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is music that makes you wanna dance, there is music that is relaxing and there is this rare kind of music that touches your soul. The music of Hayley Westenra unquestionably belongs to the latter. Being blessed with a hauntingly beautiful voice that gives you goose bumps which just won't go away, Hayley is gradually bringing her talent to a perfection that is not of this world.
I have been a faithful admirer of Sarah Brightman for 18 years and I have always been positive that there cannot possibly be a voice with a clarity greater than hers. Having heard Hayley, I knew I was wrong. Her latest album she named "Pure" and the ever growing throng of Hayley's fans would right away agree that "nomen est omen".
Every song on this DVD is a masterpiece, so I would not dare make a ranking, but personally I enjoyed "May it Be", "Wuthering Heights" and "Hine e Hine" the most.
I strongly recommend that you buy this DVD. You would not want to miss out on an early concert of the artist that will one day be referred to as the "Voice of the 21st Century". At the same time you will be able to let your eyes feast on a very pretty, charming young lady that moves very elegantly to her celestial tunes. Do buy this DVD and share it with someone whom you truly love!"
AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING LIVE PERFORMANCE!!
M. A. Echandy | SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS United States | 05/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just received my copy of Hayley Westenra, "Live From New Zealand," and must say that after watching her performance, I was totally blown away! Hayley is amazing in concert! The St. James Theatre was the perfect venue. The bonus features on the DVD are a nice treat after the concert. The interview with Hayley is very interesting and gives a lot of background on how she started out in the music industry. I really enjoyed the short documentary on the beautiful island of New Zealand. The video performance of Hayley's signature hit, "Pokarekare Ana," is excellent and shows off the beautiful beach area of "Cathedral Cove." Overall an excellent DVD. I can't wait for her next album, due out in the fall of 2005. GO HAYLEY!!"