Ned Rorem

Composer(s): Ned Rorem
Album Title: Evidence of Things Not Seen 
Cat. No.: 80575 (2 CDs)
Genre: Classical
Description: Evidence of Things Not Seen

(2-CD set)

Monique McDonald, soprano; Delores Ziegler, mezzo-soprano; Rufus Müller, tenor; Kurt Ollmann, baritone; Steven Blier, Michael Barrett, piano

Evidence of Things Not Seen, a cycle of 36 songs for four solo voices with piano, is the world-premiere recording of Ned Rorem’s magnum opus. Rorem is America’s greatest song composer and this is his crowning achievement in the genre. It is divided into three sections-Beginnings, Middles and Ends. The texts are drawn from a diverse collection of 24 authors ranging from William Penn, Whitman, Baudelaire, Colette, and Langston Hughes to contemporary poets Mark Doty and Paul Monnette.

In his own words, “The order of the songs relies on subject matter. The opening group, Beginnings, is just that-songs about moving forward, and the wistful optimism of love, with a concluding hymn-text from the eighteenth century to be sung by a congregation in the morning. The second group, Middles, about coming of age, horror of war, romantic disappointment, concludes with another hymn, this one for evening. The last group, Ends, about death, concludes with an admonishment from William Penn, echoing a definition of Faith in Corinthians II: Look not to things that are seen, but to that which is unseen; for things that are seen pass away, but that which is unseen is forever.”

On its premiere in January 1998 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, it was greeted with unanimous praise. Peter G. Davis of New York magazine wrote, “After just one hearing, I will rashly proclaim it one of the musically richest, most exquisitely fashioned, most voice-friendly collections of songs I have ever heard by any American composer….” On its Washington, D.C. premiere, Tim Page opined in The Washington Post, “[Evidence of Things Not Seen] is probably the composer’s finest musical creation-epic in its ambitions, encyclopedic in its range, immaculately shaped for the human voice. ...this is an important work and should be heard again and again, imbued as it is with the distinguished and terrible sense of a summing up.” 
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