Virgil Thomson: Portraits

Composer(s): Virgil Thomson
Album Title: Virgil Thomson: Portraits 
Cat. No.: 80429
Genre: Classical
Description: Jacquelyn Helin, piano

Virgil Thomson's piano music can best be described as pure direct American plainsong.  Hymn tunes get transposed, rhythms overturn or collide, often with comic results; cowboy songs turn into fugues.  Thomson made use of all materials, from Sunday School ditties he learned as a child in Kansas City, to the tangos he heard in Paris in the Twenties, to the counterpoint of his formal musical education.

Thomson's portraits often have the feeling of line drawings by a visual artist.  This is because he did them "from life", in the presence of the sitter.  He was inspired by the idea of depicting character through the use of music.  In Thomson's words, "in all my portraits only the sitter's presence is portrayed, not his appearance or his profession."

Jacquelyn Helin is particularly identified with the music of Virgil Thomson, with whom she worked closely.  She was a featured artist in the nationally television PBS special honoring Thomson on his ninetieth birthday, and has premiered and recorded many of Thomson's works to high critical praise. 
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