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Mark Abel: The Dream Gallery - Seven California Portraits

Abel / Jaeb / Marshman / Destefano
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Delos   Catalog #: 3418   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mark Abel
Performer:  Mary JaebDavid MarshmanJanelle DestefanoDelaney Gibson,   ... 
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



ABEL Helen, Los Angeles. 1 Todd, Taft. 2 Naomi, Berkeley. 3 Carol, San Diego. 4 Lonnie, Richmond. Luz, Soledad. Adam, Arcata 1 Mary Jaeb (sop); 2 David Marshman (bar); 3 Janelle DeStefano, Read more class="SUPER12">4 Delaney Gibson (mez); Carver Cossey (bs); Martha Jane Weaver (contralto); Tom Zohar (ten); Sharon Lavery, cond; La Brea Sinfonietta DELOS DE3418 (69: 23)


Mark Abel’s The Dream Gallery is a beautiful song cycle with a most interesting orchestral accompaniment. The words don’t pull any punches. Abel is a journalist who has intimate knowledge of the cities whose inhabitants he describes. The son of reporter Elie Able, Mark grew up in Europe and Asia as well as the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s he was playing guitar and bass and writing songs for the rock scene in New York. He moved to California in 1983 and worked as a journalist. Eventually, he became foreign editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and kept that job until 2004. During that time he began to investigate classical music. His heroes included Brahms, Duparc, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ives, Szymanowski, Berg, Janá?ek, Lutos?awski, Takemitsu, and Dutilleux. He also found inspiration in the jazz of artists like Coltrane and Monk. This album, called The Dream Gallery, contains portraits of California cities where various kinds of dreams have been “deferred” in the sense of the word that Langston Hughes uses in his poem A Dream Deferred. Able’s raisins in the California sun may fester like sores, but most of them will never explode. They merely fade from public view. He reminds us of them by delineating the various perspectives of their inhabitants. Every one of these California dreams will evoke a response, but the listener might only agree with a few of the opinions stated. Each of these songs gives the words of a single individual with a unique viewpoint.


Like Richard Wagner and a few other composers who wrote their own libretti, Abel is as good a poet as he is a musician. As a result, his work demands expert vocal interpretation, and that includes acting with the voice. His cast is excellent and each singer responds well. Above all, kudos go to conductor Sharon Lavery, who has the responsibility for coordinating all the sections of this seven-part cycle. Most of the singers have rather generic voices, but they add enough emotional impact to their pieces to make each stand out. When Mary Jaeb sings the part of Helen in Los Angeles, she makes you believe that she has lost all motivation to move on. David Marshman, whose robust voice I have heard live at the San Diego Opera, uses his burnished low notes to illustrate the bleakness of Taft in Western Kern County. As Naomi from Berkeley, lyric mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano sings that living well is the best revenge, and she makes us believe that she is doing exactly that. Most affecting is Carver Cossey as Lonnie, telling of the death of the postwar dream that was Richmond. Here, you might need a handkerchief because Abel does not pause for political correctness. When Martha Jane Weaver sings the part of Luz in Soledad, she reminds us of the workers with menial jobs we pass every day but rarely see as individuals. Although Adam in Arcata is young, he lost his way and has become totally disillusioned. Only at the very end does he remember that the sunset over the Pacific Ocean can still inspire us. I might like a more positive ending, but the composer and librettist may well feel that we have no idea of what the future will bring. In any case this is an excellent vehicle for concert and recital artists and I hope to hear it presented live soon.


The CD’s sound is warm and clear. I think that anyone who is interested in modern vocal music will want to own this disc.


FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

1. Helen (Los Angeles) by Mark Abel
Performer:  Mary Jaeb (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
2. Todd (Taft) by Mark Abel
Performer:  David Marshman (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
3. Naomi (Berkeley) by Mark Abel
Performer:  Janelle Destefano (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
4. Carol (San Diego) by Mark Abel
Performer:  Delaney Gibson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
5. Lonnie (Richmond) by Mark Abel
Performer:  Carver Cossey (Bass)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
6. Luz (Soledad) by Mark Abel
Performer:  Martha Jane Weaver (Contralto)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
7. Adam (Arcata) by Mark Abel
Performer:  Tom Zohar (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sharon Lavery
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Brea Sinfonietta
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 

Sound Samples

The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 1. Helen (Los Angeles)
The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 2. Todd (Taft, Kern County)
The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 3. Naomi (Berkeley)
The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 4. Carol (San Diego)
The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 5. Lonnie (Richmond)
The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 6. Luz (Soledad, Monterey County)
The Dream Gallery: 7 California Portraits: No. 7. Adam (Arcata, Humboldt County)

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