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Singer/song-writer Katie Melua returns to her roots for her latest album, In Winter. Born in Georgia, she became a British citizen in 2005. Selling in excess of 10 million albums, her music became known through the pop charts. Melua views the world through the romantic vision of a young child but with a strong sense of adult reality. The finely trained Georgian Gori Women’s Choir acts as a beguiling backdrop to the singer’s voice, and with a disc of only 35 minutes it’s a pity there wasn’t a chance to hear more of them. Melua’s own compositions are performed alongside songs from Georgia, Russia, Romania and Ukraine in arrangements by Bob Chilcott. The CD is unusual, mellow and relaxing, and I promise you will never have heard an interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Nunc Dimittis from his All-Night Vigil like this one. Melua is thinking of ‘the mythical notion I have from my youth of the Russian forest, frozen and covered in snow’, but the harsh reality comes when she mentions her grandfather escaping from a Siberian labour camp, and you can hear it all in her voice. Her strength is the way she interprets a text.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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