Rosalind Rees sings William Schuman
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL439     Release Date: 2018-02-07
Rosalind Rees, soprano;
Orpheus Trio (Paula Robison, flute; Scott Nickrenz, viola; Heidi Lehwalder, harp); Robin Graham, French horn; White Mountains Festival Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz, conductor; Thomas Muraco, piano

Notes by Gregg Smith

William Schuman's creative career supports my thesis that the best orchestral composers are equally strong writers for the voice. Until lately most of his vocal writing has been for chorus — one of his first professional positions was director of the chorus at Sarah Lawrence College — and one of his early rewards as composer was a prize for the charming Choral Etude. Schuman was the first composer to win a Pulitzer Prize, and I have always been pleased that it was for a choral work, his cantata, A Free Song.

But while Schuman often returned to the choral medium (he wrote the great Carols of Death in 1958), he did not write very much for the solo voice. That his capabilities are just as strong there as in the choral and orchestral media may be heard in his delightful baseball opera, The Mighty Casey. It is sad to think that he didn't use Casey as a stepping stone to other full-scale operatic endeavors (he once owned the rights to Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, but unfortunately he abandoned the project).

Why is it that we had to wait so long for solo songs? Texts were no doubt a major problem. Every master composer with whom I have worked — Schuman, Carter, Krenek, Stravinsky— has been acutely discerning about poetry, and such discernment inevitably narrows the choice of poetry for song texts. Perhaps what Schuman calls his “rediscovery” of Archibald MacLeish is a factor in his recent attention to the solo voice. Perhaps, too, the arrival on the scene of specialists in contemporary song such as Jan DeGaetani and Rosalind Rees has been an inspiration. With the advent of these three large-scale solo vocal works, an important dimension has been added, not only to Schuman's output, but also to the 20th century American vocal legacy. At 70, Schuman seems at the height of his creative powers, and these vocal works are as powerful, moving and challenging as anything he has written.



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Rosalind Rees

Rosalind Rees sings William Schuman

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Track Listing

In Sweet Music
William Schuman
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Young Dead Soldiers
William Schuman
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Time to the Old: I. The Old Gray Couple
William Schuman
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Time to the Old: II. Conway Burying Ground
William Schuman
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Time to the Old: III. Dozing on the Lawn
William Schuman
Buy