Joseph Calleja, one of today’s most acclaimed tenors, the family of Mantovani, and his longtime record label Decca, have announced a brand new album, Mantovani & Me, will be released on 19 June 2020. Mantovani’s original orchestral recordings have been remastered and released with new vocals for the first time. Recorded this year, true to style on Decca original 1950s microphones, Joseph Calleja’s “outstanding” (Guardian) and “timelessly beautiful voice” (The i) breathes new life into what became known as the famous ‘Mantovani sound’ on abiding favourites including ‘Moon River’, ‘Que Sera’ and ‘Strangers In The Night’.
Mantovani’s strings accompany Joseph Calleja
Conductor, composer and arranger Mantovani was ‘Britain’s most successful album act before the Beatles’ and the first ever recording artist to sell over 1 million stereo albums. 40 years since Mantovani’s untimely death in March 1980 his trademark “cascading” strings sound accompanies one of today’s most acclaimed and sought-after tenors, Joseph Calleja. The new release follows Joseph 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.
2020 marks 80 years since Mantovani signed to Decca Records, in 1940. The first singer Mantovani accompanied for the label was another Decca legend, Dame Vera Lynn, who sang with his orchestra on her iconic 1942 release ‘White Cliffs Of Dover’, recorded on her 25th birthday. Dame Vera, who celebrates her 103rd birthday next week, recalled, “That was quite an occasion for me, singing in front of the Mantovani orchestra – on my birthday, too. It’s wonderful to know that a new generation will be re-introduced to Mantovani’s rich and mellifluous sound.”
Mantovani’s career was defined by No. 1 records
Mantovani’s career was defined by No. 1 records: ‘Charmaine’, his signature track (and released as a new single today), 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 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.
“We don’t doubt that Mantovani himself would have been so pleased and proud that his music continues to live on”
“On the 40th anniversary of Mantovani’s death our family is thrilled and delighted that Decca will be releasing an album using the original Mantovani mastertapes with Joseph Calleja,” explained Mantovani’s daughter-in-law Patricia Mantovani. “His superb voice brings a new interpretation of these arrangements and we could not have wished for a better collaboration. We don’t doubt that Mantovani himself would have been so pleased and proud that his music continues to live on.”
Mantovani’s grandson Simon Mott added, “Joseph Calleja has done the impossible – brought my grandfather’s beautiful music back to life. Now a whole new audience can appreciate its wonder!”
This new release features a special guest appearance by Grammy award-winning American soprano Renée Fleming on ’Somewhere’ from West Side Story.
Mantovani, more than any other musician in history, took the genre of light orchestral music to unprecedented heights. His utterly individual sound is forever fresh yet, combined with the voice of one of today’s truly great singers, now reaches a whole new dimension.
Joseph Calleja appears on BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night, broadcast tonight at 8pm.
Mantovani & Me will be released on 19 June 2020 – the single ‘Charmaine’ can be bought here.