LOVE, RAISE YOUR VOICE • Christine Howlett (sop); Holly Chatham (pn); Patrick Wood Uribe (vn) • MSR MS 1384 (49:51)
COOMAN Irreversible Heart. O’REGAN Sainte. Love Raise Your Voice. ENNS In the End. R. WILSON Couple. Swifts over Dublin. HASKINS Read more class="ARIAL12bi">My Garden. D. WAXMAN Love Songs
Love, Raise Your Voice is a collection of songs written between 1989 and 2010. All are sensitively sung by silvery-voiced soprano Christine Howlett, who is the director of choral activities and an assistant professor at Vassar College. Holly Chatham is an excellent keyboard player; she and virtuoso violinist Patrick Wood Uribe often play as a duo.
Carson Cooman composed his Irreversible Heart to poems from The Lives of the Heart by Jane Hirshfield. The poetry is simply written but expects listeners to make their own conclusions. Cooman’s lyrical music constructs a meaningful dialog among singer, pianist, and violinist. Tarik O’Regan’s Sainte is a setting of a descriptive religious poem by Stéphane Mallarmé. The richly textured music would seem to imply that the saint should be pictured in multicolored stained glass. O’Regan’s Love Raise Your Voice was a good choice for the album title. It is a charming song with robust piano and violin accompaniment that was composed to a poem by Andrew Morton.
Death Be Not Proud and Warm Summer Sun are two songs from Leonard Enns’s song cycle In the End. He surrounds the famous poem by John Donne with epitaphs and religious poetry about the end of life. Howlett declaims the poetry gracefully and pulls at the listener’s heartstrings when she sings the epitaph that Mark Twain put on his daughter’s tomb. Richard Wilson’s Couple has a beautiful violin obbligato floating above voice and piano. His Swifts over Dublin lets you hear the birds darting from place to place. Elizabeth Haskins sets lyrics by Christina Rossetti in her cycle My Garden. She speaks of the hope of spring and rebirth. With Celtic sounds she tells of watching spring come to fruition in a safe and comfortable place. Only in the last song does she reveal her heart’s lament: She knows she will not live to see another spring.
Donald Waxman’s Love Songs, written in 1998, set interesting poems such as Robert Herrick’s quirky “Mad Maid’s Song,” Thomas Hardy’s celebration of “A Bygone Occasion,” an anonymous poet’s description of the glories of night, and Rainer Maria Rilke’s passionate “Lovesong.” He writes traditional harmonies and even includes an intriguing violin cadenza, combining them with more modern motifs and an occasional catchy rhythm.
Love Raise your Voice is a well-made compact disc with clear sound that gives equal weight to voice, piano, and violin. I enjoyed listening to its many and varied descriptions of love; I hope you will listen to it with someone who is dear to you.