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Editor's blog: is Stevie Wonder the new David Oistrakh?

Wednesday, 01 October 2008

My ears are still ringing with the sound of Stevie Wonder’s voice at his London gig last night: that mighty, bronzed voice, with the depth and timbre of a fine French red wine, and a facility with runs and ornaments that the Mariah Careys and Christina Aguileras of this world can only dream about.

If you could compare Wonder’s sound to that of any string player, it would certainly be David Oistrakh, for the sheer force of its presence and a texture that’s brassy without being too shiny or sweet. I wouldn’t care if I heard Wonder singing the New York phone directory or Oistrakh practising scales, so strong is the pull of such a sound.

But of course Wonder has one of the best back catalogues in the business and his vocal performance was technically perfect throughout, not to mention his virtuoso harmonica playing. The understated emotional intensity of songs such as Lately (But what I really feel my eyes won't let me hide, ‘Cause they always start to cry) also proved his true greatness as a musician. I wonder how he would sound if he played the violin. (No pun intended.)

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