Ned Rorem & David Ward-Steinman: Songs
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL238     Release Date: 2010-08-15
Phyllis Curtin, soprano; Beverly Wolff, contralto;Donald Gramm, baritone; Ned Rorem, piano

Although Ned Rorem has composed for all instrumental media and for the opera stage, it is in the field of song that he is probably most known. The songs here have never been recorded before, and the vocal trio, Some Trees, received its world premiere just shortly before this recording was made. Mr. Rorem writes:

“Ever since as a teenager I started writing songs — shortish settings of quality poems for single voice with piano accompaniment — I've been tempted by the flashily thicker textures of trios and quintets and such. But either from sloth or shrewdness I never did anything about it. Off the opera stage these groupings were rare: the vocal ensemble not being a standard chamber medium, at least not in this century, there seemed little reason for composing one. Even the delicious duets of Mendelssohn and Schumann or Brahms' unique Liebeslieder Waltzes were exceptions to their time and written more for fun than money. Community fun, amateur participation, has not been a major preoccupation of modern art (Christmas carols notwithstanding), and even the solo voice recital has verged on extinction. Lately, though, with the Beatles' advent—not to mention mixed- media Happenings throughout the globe—there seems to be a reawakening of the musical pleasure principle and of group participation.

“Even so, I would probably never have come to composing an ensemble were it not for a practical impetus. Some Trees is a trio designed for specific singers on a specific occasion. The singers are those on this record. The occasion was a recital (Town Hall, December 12, 1968) on which each soloist separately performed a group of my songs. It seemed appropriate to end the concert by joining the artists in a group offering. So I composed this cycle.”

Of Fragments From Sappho, David Ward-Steinman writes:

“The actual composition took 3 1/2 years, for it had to be sandwiched in between a number of larger-scale commissioned works — an oratorio (The Song Of Moses), two concertos, and two ballets. Songs 1-3-5 are scored for the full ensemble — soprano, flute, clarinet and piano. Song #2 omits the clarinet, Song #4 the flute, and Song #6 (Epilog) the piano, so that each of the instruments is featured in turn with the voice.

“The first performance took place 29 April 1966 in La Jolla (California) with Emma Small as soloist in a concert of “Poetry and Modern Music” sponsored by the La Jolla Theatre Group.”


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Full liner notes are accessible via the link above.

Phyllis Curtin

Ned Rorem & David Ward-Steinman: Songs

MP3/320 $7.99
FLAC $7.99
WAV $7.99
CD-R $7.99

Track Listing

Some Trees: Some Trees
Ned Rorem
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Some Trees: The Grapevine
Ned Rorem
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Some Trees: Our Youth
Ned Rorem
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Six Songs: Little Elegy
Ned Rorem
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Six Songs: Night Crow
Ned Rorem
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Six Songs: The Tulip Tree
Ned Rorem
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Six Songs: Look Down, Fair Moon
Ned Rorem
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Six Songs: What Sparks and Wiry Cries
Ned Rorem
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Six Songs: For Poulenc
Ned Rorem
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Fragments from Sappho: I. Introduction
David Ward-Steinman
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Fragments from Sappho: II. Prayer to my lady Paphos
David Ward-Steinman
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Fragments from Sappho: III. It's no use
David Ward-Steinman
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Fragments from Sappho: IV. Awed by her splendor
David Ward-Steinman
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Fragments from Sappho: V. We drink your health
David Ward-Steinman
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Fragments from Sappho: VI. Epilog
David Ward-Steinman
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