SoundS of AmericA
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Luminous and urgent: polyphony from the seattle‑based Byrd Ensemble his musical values conspicuously over the years but his seeming spiritual values remained remarkably consistent. Ken Smith
MR Lang ‘New Love Must Rise – selected songs, Vol 2’ On an April apple bough. Before my lady’s window, Op 19 No 4. In the greenwood, Op 19 No 2. In a garden. the Bird, Op 40 No 3. Nameless Pain. Northward, Op 37 No 6. My garden, Op 28 No 3. I knew the flowers had dreamed of you. song in the songless, Op 38 No 4. In the twilight. An Even Psalm, Op 46 No 1. the Harbor of Dreams, Op 7 No 3. In the night, Op 39 No 3. Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures – Op 42; Op 43. to‑Morrow, Op 39 No 7. Lydia, Op 32 No 2. A thought, Op 37 No 1. Lied der Nebenbuhlerin. Lament, Op 6 No 3. An Irish Mother’s Lullaby, Op 34. Night, Op 7 No 1 Donald George ten Lucy Mauro pf Delos F DE3410 (59’ • DDD)
New York vocal professor continues his Lang revival Margaret Ruthven Lang may superficially be one of those Franz Schubert stories, an obscure/neglected/forgotten composer writing songs for a close circle of friends (she wrote more than 200 before retiring as a composer in 1919). And, while Lang was no Schubert, she created an attractive, quiet intimacy with her Boston Brahmin audience, inspired by a Neverland of poetry. In fact, Lang at one time occupied a prominent place among American composers: Arthur Nikisch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered her Dramatic Overture, Op 12, in 1893. Her ‘Irish Love Song’, Op 22 (which Donald George and Lucy Mauro included on Vol 1), was recorded by both Ernestine Schumann-Heink and Alma Gluck.
Each of the songs is carefully considered and wrought in gracefully sunlit shades of romantic twilight. In the single songs arranged as sets named ‘The Garden’, ‘The Twilight’ and ‘Tomorrow and a Lullaby’, Donald George’s sweet tenor, partnered sympathetically by Lucy Mauro, captures the modest charm and lyrical flavour of Lang’s music. In the six Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures, set to limericks by Edward Lear – who was the Edward Gorey of his time, as George and Mauro subtly let on with little winks and grins – Lang raises the silly rhymes to a surprisingly affecting level, as in ‘There was a young lady in white’.
Lindsay Koob’s delicately written bookletnotes indict a time and society in which women’s rights had not been fully established, while providing an excellent guide to the songs. The recording, made at the University of West Virginia’s Bloch Hall, is rich and fine. Laurence Vittes
McCormick Percussion Group D Adams Camouflage a Liptak Concerto for Viola and Percussion b Saunders Smith Nightshade c
Sekhon Lou d Timpson Concerto for Zheng and Percussion Orchestra, ‘DongXiDongXi’ e
McCormick Percussion Group / Robert McCormick with c Carolyn Stuart vn b John Graham va d Scott Kluksdahl vc a Dee Moses db e Haiqiong Deng zheng Ravello F RR7820 (59’ • DDD)
McCormick trace the true line of American music It’s one thing to talk about the legacy of American music. It’s quite another to present it as a received tradition, where younger composers clearly draw from their elders. If these diverse pieces offer any overriding theme, it’s that John Cage, Harry Partch and Lou Harrison – and before them Charles Ives, Henry Cowell and Carl Ruggles – were hardly solitary mavericks but rather points in a parallel sound world where European musical traditions were merely one influence among many. Whether you start with the microtonal leanings of Baljinder Sekhon’s Lou (which opens the collection) or go straight to David Liptak’s Concerto for Viola and Percussion, where evocative percussion timbres keep viola player John Graham’s lyrical playing in constant focus, the musical values here are a world away from Europe. So too in Michael Sidney Timpson’s DongXiDongXi, a concerto for zheng and percussion orchestra, the Chinese zither finds itself gramophone.co.uk
GRAMOPHONE August 2012 XI