Voices From Elysium

Composer(s): Louise Talma, Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Miriam Gideon
Album Title: Voices From Elysium 
Cat. No.: 80543
Genre: Classical
Description: Art Songs By Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Miriam Gideon, Louise Talma, and Ruth Crawford Seeger

Phyllis Bryn-Julson*, soprano; Paul Sperry**, tenor; Constantine Cassolas***, tenor;
Beverly Morgan+, mezzo-soprano;  
Da Capo Chamber Players; Speculum Musicae+

Voices from Elysium is a rare and valuable survey of the American literature for voice with chamber accompaniment and includes some of the outstanding works in the genre. All exploit the greater coloristic and expressive possibilities offered by a chamber ensemble. Aaron Copland’s As It Fell Upon a Day* is full of ingenious and charming details, alternating moods of merriment and shadow throughout the song's three sections. Henry Cowell’s lone contribution, Vocalise*, owes a great deal to his explorations of Oriental music. It is essentially a charming, pretty virtuoso piece for coloratura soprano in the tradition of famous antecedents like the “Bell Song” from Lakmé.

Miriam Gideon(1906-1996) is best known for her wonderful but underappreciated vocal music. Voices from Elysium*** is a setting of seven poems translated from the Ancient Greek. The cycle is an evocation of Greek antiquity, with tender and whimsical reflections upon life and death, each with a sardonic twist. Gideon’s attentiveness to the words and their meaning is everywhere evident in these supple, subtle settings.

Louise Talma (1906-1996), like Miriam Gideon, also distinguished herself as a song composer. Diadem** is a cycle of seven songs, each of which presents the characteristics and powers of a single stone: the stones together constitute a diadem, a glittering metaphor for all the finest human aspirations and qualities. Talma’s settings share the same virtues as Gideon's-an economy of expression and gesture wedded to a extraordinary sensitivity to text and texture that yields songs of a polished, jewel-like precision. Ruth Crawford Seeger’s (1901-1953) Three Songs+ set texts by Carl Sandburg in her characteristically stringent, compelling style. 
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