||Download Album (Lossless - $27.99)
The Florestan Recital Project: Sarah Pelletier, soprano; Lynne McMurtry, contralto; William Hite, tenor; Aaron Engebreth, baritone; Alison d’Amato, pianist; Linda Osborn, pianist; John McDonald, percussionist
These discs offer the most complete recorded collection of works for voice and piano of Virgil Thomson (1896-1989), one of the most important American composers of the twentieth century. Thomson wrote songs throughout his career and they offer a unique window into his changing musical concerns and his compositional evolution. Since this recording includes works previously unpublished and unrecorded, several of which are substantial in themselves and important to his development as a composer, it makes possible a more complete understanding of his work.
Thomson wrote that the great song composers - Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler, Faure, Debussy, Duparc, Ravel, and Poulenc - accomplished their miracles through their ability to make the music "not only of equal quality with the verse but also its mate. It gets inside a poem and stays there, intertwined unforgettably, never to be thought of henceforth as not a part of the whole idea." He contrasted these works with the songs of Purcell, which he thought, although very beautiful and expertly done, nonetheless did not fuse the music and text - the music was merely "decorative." Thomson's songs run the gamut of his classification. If one sets out to set words to music in a way that deliberately avoids interpreting or illustrating them, one probably sets up a situation where the music and words are separable. So the early Stein settings, the Shakespeare Songs, and the Old English Songs may (or may not) be very beautifully and elegantly decorative, but it is difficult not to think of the music of Mostly About Love or Praises and Prayers, or the Blake Songs as anything other than an inseparable part of the whole. There the music gets right inside of the words, and right inside of us.
Vernal Equinox (1920, unpublished), Ah, Sunflower! (1920, unpublished), Susie Asado (1926), Preciosilla (1927), Five Songs from William Blake (1951), Portrait of F.B. (Frances Blood) (1929), La Valse Grégorienne (1927), Film: Deux soeurs qui ne sont pas soeurs (1930), The Tiger (1926), Le Berceau de Gertrude Stein ou Le Mystère de la rue de Fleurus (1928), Les Soirées bagnolaises (1928, unpublished), La Belle en dormant (1931), Trois Poèmes de la Duchesse de Rohan (1928, #1 unpublished), Air de Phèdre (1930), Commentaire sur Saint Jérome (1928, unpublished), Le Singe et le Léopard (1930)
1. At the Spring (1955), Dirge (1939), Shakespeare Songs (1957), Consider, Lord (1955), The Bell Doth Toll (1955),Remember Adam’s Fall (1955), John Peel (1955), Look, How the Floor of Heaven (1955), If Thou a Reason Dost Desire to Know (1955-58), Praises and Prayers (1963), Three Sentences of Solomon (1924, unpublished), Five Phrases from the Song of Solomon (1926), Oraison funèbre de Henriette-Marie de France, Reine de la Grande-Bretagne (1930/34, unpublished), Mass for Solo Voice (1960)
My Shepherd Will Supply My Need (1937/59), Two By Marianne Moore (1963), Go to Sleep, Gabriel Liebowitz (1939, unpublished), The Courtship of the Yongly-Bongly-Bo (1973), Chamber Music (1931, unpublished), A Lullaby for Margaret Wheeler (1987, unpublished), From Sneden’s Landing Variations (1972), What Is It? (1979), Go to Sleep, Pare McTaggett Lorentz: A Lullaby (1935, unpublished), The Cat (1980), Tres Estampas de Niñez (1957), Go to Sleep, Alexander Smallens, Jr. (1937, unpublished), Mostly About Love (1959), Collected Poems (1959)