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Twisted Folk / Rachel Payne, Reiko Futing

Payne,Rachel & Reiko Fating
Release Date: 12/01/2009 
Label:  Canto Classic Recordings   Catalog #: 5637575480  
Composer:  Evan AntonellisReiko FütingNils VigelandAaron Copland,   ... 
Performer:  Rachel PayneReiko Füting
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



COPLAND Old American Songs: At the River. Simple Gifts. Long Time Ago. FÜTING Molly Bank. Cold Blows the Wind. I Wonder as I Wander. Shenandoah. Danny Boy. How Can I Keep from Singing? ANTONELLIS Scarborough Fair. My Bonny Bonny Boy. VIGELAND Lay Me Low. Precept and Line. Love and Blessing. RAIKHEL The Foggy Dew. Boulavogue. HOUGH Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Kerry Dance. In the Bright Mohawk Valley. CERRONE The Last Rose of Summer. Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes Rachel Payne (sop); Reiko Füting (pn) no label/number (52:21)


There exists a long tradition of Western composers creating art-song settings of folk tunes. We need look no further than Haydn and Beethoven, or nearer our own day, Britten in England and Copland in the U.S. Three of Copland’s Old American Songs feature centrally in this interesting program assembled by soprano Rachel Payne and pianist Reiko Füting, which brings together settings by contemporary composers under the title of Twisted Folk . The songs chosen are familiar standards from the British and American repertoire, and the composers who have arranged them—other than Copland—are unknown (at least to this longtime Fanfare reader).


The piano accompaniments vary in style from the extremely simple (Füting’s single-note descant in Molly Bank ) to the experimental. Among the latter are Vincent Raikhel’s arrangement of The Foggy Dew , which requires the pianist to strum strings inside the piano lid to evoke the sound of the psalter, and the same composer’s Boulavogue , a kind of regimental march underscored with the various clangs and plonks of a prepared piano. Both pieces are quirkily effective. At times bitonal descants are introduced in discordant counterpoint, as in Christopher Cerrone’s off-key medley of The Last Rose of Summer and Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes. (Appropriately, both songs are traditionally performed while intoxicated.) Two selections in the program are for piano solo: Lay Me Low and Precept and Line , both arranged by Nils Vigeland. I especially enjoyed his fugal treatment of the latter, a tune I did not know.


Payne has the ideal vocal timbre for this repertoire. She is neither as raw as a genuine folk singer, nor as polished as a crossover opera star (such as Kiri Te Kanawa in her recording of Songs of the Auvergne ). The confined acoustic tends to emphasize a constriction in some of Payne’s high notes, depending on the vowel, and at times she seems to be singing doggedly on through—or despite—the quirky accompaniments. Boulavogue is an example, although that may well be the point of it. She sits at a comfortable mezzo forte most of the time, an exception being the pensive half tone she employs in Matthew Hough’s moving version of In the Bright Mohawk Valley . Her diction is clear, although she is not the first singer to pronounce “wonder” and “wander” exactly the same way (in Füting’s setting of I Wonder as I Wander ), thus obscuring the sense of the line. Füting, aside from being a formidable accompanist, is also a refined composer: Witness his sensitive tone painting in Cold Blows the Wind.


While the composers on this disc rarely approach the level of imagination and identification Britten displayed in his folk-song arrangements for Peter Pears, it must be said that Payne brings none of Pears’s recital-room formality to her renditions. In the end, I guess your level of enjoyment will depend on whether you are a purist, and how prepared you are to accept these beloved tunes in an unashamedly postmodern context. Even the most successful settings here depend as much on the sheer beauty of the melodic line as they do on the soundscapes into which those melodies are placed. (Incidentally, Evan Antonellis’s Scarborough Fair uses a different melody than the one made famous by Simon and Garfunkel; I presume both are authentic.)


Call me old fashioned, but to my mind Copland reigns supreme in this company. His settings of Simple Gifts, Long Time Ago, and At the River contain enough harmonic spice to be of their time, yet they always support the melody and never fight it. Payne sings them sweetly, but don’t let that deter you from buying William Warfield’s recording of the two sets of Old American Songs in their orchestral garb, a desert-island disc if ever there was one. Perhaps a more apt choice for inclusion among the “twisted folk” would have been Ives’s setting of At the River ; his fistfuls of notes would have afforded a notable contrast with the predominantly sparse accompaniments on show here.


I apologize for not indicating the catalog number of this disc in the headnote; none is mentioned anywhere in the packaging, but I am told that by the time this review appears the CD should be available through the usual outlets. It will be worth tracking down. This is by no means your average vocal recital.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott


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This is an enjoyable disc, one that taps into well-known folksongs via the compositional mediations of graduates and professors of Manhattan School of Music, and of Aaron Copland, three of whose settings are performed.
 
Rachel Payne is the soprano and her colleague Reiko Füting, not only pianist but the arranger of six settings. The tone, as it were, is set by the mellifluous and gentle setting of Scarborough Fair but the same arranger, Evan Antonellis, ensures contrast in his two settings by writing an energetic surging piano accompaniment for My Bonny, Bonny Boy that adeptly recedes into limpidity. Füting has taken Berio’s folksongs as his own model and there’s a terse piano commentary in Molly Bann and an appropriately spare I Wonder As I Wander.
 
The Nils Vigeland settings are of the Shaker songs; Lay Me Low pushes the voice quite high, Precept and Line is a busy setting for solo piano, and Love And Blessing is quite punchy. Of the Copland settings Long Time Ago is rather beautifully done; the other two famous settings are pliantly realised. The Foggy Dew is (arr. Vincent Raikhel and he allows harp-like sonorities via using the piano’s strings. The percussive interjections are strong, even militaristic here in places, whilst the voice goes serenely on. Boulavogue is accompanied by more ‘pots and pans’ percussion, rather less successfully, unfortunately. Tis the Last Rose of Summer, (arr. Christopher Cerrone, has some Ivesian undercurrents one feels, and the same arranger’s Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes is attractively portrayed.
 
The arrangers here pursue in general an Ives to Copland to Berio approach. Those who allow percussive colour generally do so with tact and discrimination though sometimes things run away with themselves; the dichotomy between the canonic nature of these folksongs and the means available subtly to subvert or inter-textualise them can be hard to resist. Payne and Füting are fine ambassadors for this ‘new’ music and have clearly established a first class ensemble; fortunately they’ve been well recorded into the bargain.
 
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International  
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Works on This Recording

1.
Scarborough Fair by Evan Antonellis
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
2.
My Bonny, Bonny Boy by Evan Antonellis
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
3.
Molly Bann by Reiko Füting
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
4.
Cold Blows the Wind by Reiko Füting
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
5.
I Wonder as I Wander by Reiko Füting
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
6.
Lay Me Low by Nils Vigeland
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
7.
Precept and Line by Nils Vigeland
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
8.
Love and Blessing by Nils Vigeland
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
9.
Old American Songs, Set 2: At the River by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
10.
Old American Songs, Set 1: Simple Gifts by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
11.
Old American Songs, Set 1: Long Time Ago by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
12.
The Foggy Dew by Vincent Raikhel
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
13.
Boulavogue by Vincent Raikhel
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
14.
Kerry Dance by Matthew Hough
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
15.
'Tis the Last Rose of Summer by Christopher Cerrone
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
16.
Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes by Christopher Cerrone
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
17.
Shenandoah by Reiko Füting
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
18.
Danny Boy by Reiko Füting
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)
19.
How Can I Keep from Singing by Reiko Füting
Performer:  Rachel Payne (Soprano), Reiko Füting (Piano)

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