The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has made some famous friends over the years. A dozen appear on the choir's new album, "Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends," which dropped Friday on the choir's own label.
Music director Mack Wilberg said the project has been "a work in progress for several years." In most cases, the producers chose tracks from the original collaboration; for example, Scandinavian singer Sissel's performance of "Vitae Lux," Brian Stokes Mitchell's "Through Heaven's Eyes" and Angela Lansbury's "Beauty and the Beast" were taken from the Christmas concerts of 2006, 2008 and 2001, respectively. Four tracks were recorded new, including an arrangement of "How Can I Keep From Singing?" featuring superstar soprano Renée Fleming, the choir's 2005 Christmas guest. The choir also brought back three-time guest Santino Fontana for a new recording of "He Lives in You," from "The Lion King."
The album's standout track is an unaccompanied 2013 performance of "Lonesome Road" with James Taylor, who declared after the first rehearsal that his song had "died and gone to heaven." And anyone who still can picture Sting and cellist Yo-Yo Ma gliding across the ice in Rice-Eccles Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics will be pleased to learn that their performance of "Fragile," which also features the Utah Symphony, holds up marvelously.