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Boris Blacher: Romeo & Juliet / Jeffrey Silberschlag, Et Al


Release Date: 03/04/2008 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1008   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Boris Blacher
Performer:  Michael TolaydoiDavid RobinsonN'Kenge Simpson-HoffmanLeneida Crawford,   ... 
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a fascinating and enjoyable release of a major work by an important 20th-century composer. Boris Blacher composed his chamber opera Romeo and Juliet to Shakespeare's own text (much-abridged by the composer) in 1943, in Nazi Germany, where he already was in disfavor on account of his Jewish origins. Accordingly, this gently pacifist work had to wait until after the Second World War to receive its first performance. Scored for nine players (string quartet, bass, flute, bassoon, trumpet, and piano) plus a handful of soloists who do double duty as a quartet-chorus, the work gets through the entire story in 18 short scenes (six per act) lasting about 70 minutes. Introducing each act is a brief "chanson", pointing up the music's Read more debt to cabaret and popular song idioms. Indeed, Blacher's score is remarkably light and rhythmically deft, bittersweet rather than heavily tragic, and full of fragile lyricism. It makes an impression all the more powerful for being at once understated but youthful (check out the Balcony Scene that closes Act 1).

The performance here is very accomplished. The nine instrumentalists of the Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra under conductor Jeffrey Silberschlag play very well, and the soloists range from good (tenor David Robinson's slightly strained and grainy Romeo) to excellent (N'Kenge Simpson's winsome Juliet, and Leneida Crawford in several roles). Blacher's sequence of solos and ensembles creates an unusually wide range of contrast within each act, and this, combined with the singers' fine diction and Albany's very clean and clear engineering, makes for a memorable listening experience.

It's a pity that this disc probably won't get much attention in Germany, where Blacher's music deserves to be given classic status at least on a par with that of, say, Hindemith. He was a superb craftsman with a distinct personal style. Hopefully this disc will earn him some new friends and give some other community-based small opera companies a worthy addition to their repertoire.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: Chanson I by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Larry E. Vote (Baritone), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
2.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 1, Allegro by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
3.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 2, Moderato by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Larry E. Vote (Baritone), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano),
Irvine Peterson (Tenor), Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor),
N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
4.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 3, Vivace by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
5.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 4, Andantino by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
6.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 5, Prestissimo by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
7.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 6, Allegretto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
8.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: Chanson II by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
9.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 7, Moderato assai by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
10.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 8, Allegro moderato by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
11.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 9, Allegro molto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
12.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 10, Andante con moto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
13.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 11, Presto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
14.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 12, Maestoso by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
15.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: Chanson III by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 1 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
16.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 13, Sostenuto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
17.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 14, Presto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
18.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 15, Allegretto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
19.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 16, Allegro moderato by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor),
Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano),
Larry E. Vote (Baritone)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
20.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 17, Larghetto by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), Irvine Peterson (Tenor), Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals),
David Robinson (Tenor), N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano), Larry E. Vote (Baritone),
Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 
21.
Romeo und Julia, Op. 22: no 18, Moderato by Boris Blacher
Performer:  Michael Tolaydoi (Spoken Vocals), Larry E. Vote (Baritone), Kathleen L. Wilson (Mezzo Soprano),
N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman (Soprano), Leneida Crawford (Mezzo Soprano), David Robinson (Tenor),
Irvine Peterson (Tenor)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: : Michael Tolaydoi. 

Sound Samples

Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: Two households, both alike in dignity (Nurse, Narrator)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: Enemies to peace, profaners of this neighbour-stained steel (Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: Tell me, daughter Juliet, how stands your disposition to be married? (Lady Capulet, Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: Welcome, gentlemen! (Capulet, Romeo, Tybalt, Juliet)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: Madam, your mother craves a word with you (Chorus, Romeo, Juliet)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: Queen Mab! She is the fairies' midwife (Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act I: Chanson I: He jests at scars that never felt a wound (Romeo, Juliet)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: Now old Desiree doth in his deathed lie (Tybalt, Narrator)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night (Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse (Juliet, Nurse)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: Romeo, away! The citizens are up, and Tybolt slain (Chorus, Benvolio)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day (Juliet, Romeo)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: Why, how now, Juliet! (Lady Capulet, Juliet)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act II: Chanson II: Hold, daughter: We do spy a kind of hope (Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: These violent delights have violent ends (Peter)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: O woeful time! A lamentable day! Out, alas! (Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: Faith, we may put up our pipes, and be gone (First Musician, Second Musician, Peter, Third Musician)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep (Romeo, Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: A grave? O, no, a lantern; fro here lies Juliet (Romeo)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: O, comfortable friar! Where is my lord? (Juliet, Chorus)
Romeo und Julia (Sung in English): Act III: Chanson III: Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet (Chorus)

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