The dubious world of the pop-classical crossover is where Il Divo slaughter “Unchained Melody” and all-female string ensembles in regulation black dresses saw away dutifully at rock gigs. But Night, a collaboration between New York concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein and North Carolina singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, is a cut above such banalities. Their version of Purcell’s “Dido’s Lament” imagines the Queen of Carthage as a bereft torch singer in a deserted early-morning cocktail bar, while Schubert’s “Night and Dreams” is ingeniously accessorised by a mournful harmonica solo. Dinnerstein’s piano-playing provides a restrained, nuanced accompaniment to Merritt’s clear voice and guitar; it’s only on the more emotionally impassioned moments, such as a cover of Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain”, that the pair sound awkward.

Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein

Night

(Sony Classical)

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