Earlier this year BCSD, one of my favorite sites, featured a CD by Dennis Chmelensky which was simply titled Dennis. I finally got around to getting it and it’s pretty good.
Dennis has one of those special voices that reminds me a bit of Diozny Placzkowski. It’s very smooth, sort of operatic, and he can easily reach the high notes without straining.
On this CD, his first, he has some of the standards like Schubert’s Ave Maria, Pie Jesu, and Abendsegen (Evening Prayer) from Hansel and Gretel. How many times can I listen to Panis Angelicus? At least a million and this one is good.
Dennis takes on three songs from the movie Les Choristes: Cerf-Volant, Vois Sur Ton Chemnin and Caresse Sur L’Ocean.
He does You Raise Me Up in a very ‘American Idol’ style, you know where they repeat a verse three times, each time getting higher and more intense, the microphone held high and their eyes squinched tightly shut.
I’m not a fan of American Idol but he also does a sweet rendition of Moon River and The Last Unicorn. He even gives us some Handel and Mozart and Bach to show he’s not afraid of classical music.
The liner notes are in German and so is his home page but I managed to get a translation of some of it. He was with the Berlin State and Cathedral Choir when he sang Ave Maria on 'Germany’s Got Talent' and made it to the finals. He said he wanted to buy his mother a better hearing aid with the prize money. That was bound to get him some votes from the older female viewers.
At age five he began playing the violin and at seven, the piano. Dennis began singing at eight years old as a member of the Berlin State Opera Chorus where he has performed under the direction of some big name conductors, like Simon Rattle. I could say more about him if only my German was better.
He’s a cute kid and probably should have won that talent show. I hope his mom got that hearing aid.