Skip to main content
Read page text

A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada

Karchin Jane Eyre Jennifer Zetlan sop .......................................... Jane Eyre Ryan MacPherson ten .................... Edward Rochester Thomas Meglioranza bar.................................................. ......................................Roderick Ingram/St John Rivers Jessica Thompson sop ......Mrs Ingram/Diana Rivers Katrina Thurman sop .......................... Blanche Ingram Kimberly Giordano sop ............................... Mrs Fairfax Adam Cannedy bar ............Richard Mason/Mr Briggs Jessica Best mez .............................Mary Rivers/Bessie David Salsbery Fry bass .................................. Mr Wood Orchestra of the League of Composers / Louis Karchin Naxos American Opera Classics B b 8 669042/3 (130’ • DDD) Includes synopsis and libretto

In 2016 at Hunter College, New York, the Center for

Contemporary Opera staged the world premiere of Jane Eyre, in which composer Louis Karchin and librettist Diane Osen seized on the relentless flow of fire and brimstone that made Charlotte Brontë’s fame. Recorded a year later at SUNY Purchase with the original cast, it sounds sumptuously melodramatic, and there is no downplaying Rochester’s dark side here; in the theatre it must have been hair-raising.

Karchin and Osen hewed closely to the nature of Brontë’s writing: the score is emotionally intense down to the smallest details, so the extravagant behaviour of the characters seems reasonable. The resulting fierce narrative ignites larger-than-life theatrical outbursts that are perfect for arias and ensemble pieces, brilliantly aided and abetted by the virtuoso Orchestra of the League of Composers. From the opening strains of melody, when chiaroscuro colours anticipate this will be a moody, highly inventive score, there is no abating in the energy, just like the novel.

Jennifer Zetlan as Jane has the greatest music and sings it triumphantly; her biographical aria leading to ‘A governess in this great house’ is simply glorious and charged with chemistry. Ryan MacPherson fills out Rochester’s personality thrillingly, and shows versatility as the creepily insinuating fortune teller.

Karchin’s charming musical candy box includes a broad range of influences from Bruckner to Tchaikovsky, including the highly entertaining use of excerpts from Lucia di Lammermoor. The English libretto is effectively compacted but occasionally lends the enterprise a Gilbert & Sullivan swagger. Laurence Vittes

Meyer ‘Ring Out’ But Not Untila. I Only Speak of the Sunb. Only the Beginningc. Releasedd. Ring out, wild bellse. Seasons of Bashof f Nicholas Tamagna counterten bc Miranda Cuckson vn abcfJessica Meyer va b Caleb van der Swaagh, adAndrew Yee vcs f Adam Marks pf eRoomful of Teeth Bright Shiny Things F BSTC0128 (52’ • DDD • T)

performance; amid its wealth of gadgets, including a ‘Dead Man’s Tuning’ from Appalachian fiddling, Yee finds a pulse that reveals deep pools of consoling majesty.

In Seasons of Basho, countertenor Nicholas Tamagna mesmerises Meyer and pianist Adam Marks with moments of golden silence among his unwaveringly lovely sweet tones, using the cyclical changing of the year as a metaphor for the highs and lows of obsessive love.

Cuckson and Meyer combine in Only the Beginning, inspired by Indira Gandhi, Poulenc and the Catholic Mass, to reflect on what sacrifice means in an Ivesian, conversational tone. Meyer and Yee combine on But Not Until, a haunted crossing against a landscape of echoes. Laurence Vittes

Reale Bassoon Sonata, ‘Dies irae’. Eleven Miniatures. Flute Sonata, ‘Children’s Place’. Horn Call. Oboe Sonata. Trans iguration Christopher Guzman pf The Borealis Wind Quintet MSR Classics F MS1715 (64’ • DDD)

In each of Jessica Meyer’s differently configured works from the last five years, knife-edge anticipation opens on to unexpected, often ecstatic musical realms, always with a personal touch and imaginatively written for the instruments.

The newest, I Only Speak of the Sun, which is skittish around major keys, was inspired by Rumi – ‘I will bring you love’s wine, for I am born of the sun’. The end comes preceded by radiant shafts of light triggering bursts of energy and a dizzying erotic scamper. Definitely a relationship between lovers.

Ring out, wild bells, performed by the vocal octet Roomful of Teeth, was inspired by hearing church bells in Paris on an Easter morning. Premiered at the TANK Center for Sonic Arts during a Summer Solstice concert, it starts out like a Christmas carol and achieves a Tallis-like ecstasy before ending in pale violet sadness.

The Attacca Quartet’s cellist Andrew Yee gives Released an emotionally charged

Paul Reale (b1943 in New Jersey) studied at Columbia in the 1960s with Chou

Wen-chung (with whom he had first studied composition privately) and Otto Luening, and later ‘came under the influence of’ Rochberg and Crumb. His catalogue includes a wealth of chamber and instrumental works, including 12 piano sonatas, plus vocal works and many concertos – three for the piano.

Reale’s music does not really sound like any of his former mentors. Its style is recognisably early 21st-century postmodernist, tonally based but having little truck with minimalism. It is well written without being overtly challenging to listen to, but sufficiently interesting to bear repeated listening, as in the rather fine Flute Sonata (1983, rev 2017), its three movements cast as a diptych, the opening ‘Welcome’ followed by a ‘Repose’ dovetailed into the concluding ‘Romp’.

gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE NOVEMBER 2019 I

My Bookmarks


Skip to main content