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Argento: A Water Bird Talk, Miss Havisham's Wedding Night / Mabbs, Shirley-Quirk

Release Date: 06/17/1997 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7388   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dominick Argento
Performer:  John Shirley-QuirkLinda Mabbs
Conductor:  Sara Watkins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of St Cecilia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

It's a good thing that A Water Bird Talk comes first on this disc: each opera is a brilliant miniature and a tour de force for its lone soloist, but Talk is a subtle, wry piece, whereas Miss Havisham 's Wedding Night is a full-blown mad scene. Both exploit the composer's predilection for exploring human frailty; Argento has called it "self-discovery, self-knowledge." The talk is given by a fîftyish milquetoast who is sharply prompted from the wings by his shrewish wife. In the course of his lecture, he unintentionally bares his soul and reveals his unhappy family life. The vocal line varies from speech to arioso to song, and a chamber orchestra—one instrument to each of 17 parts— creates a magical, often Britten-like Read more accompaniment. John Shirley-Quirk sings beautifully and gives a delightful, sympathetic portrayal.

Miss Havisham 's Wedding Night is more conventionally operatic, with a wide-ranging, soaring vocal line set into a potent orchestral fabric. Dickens's character, abandoned on her wedding day, has lived on for decades in her tattered wedding dress. Her mind lurches back and forth through the years, slipping in and out of reality. Soprano Linda Mabbs is a fine Miss Havisham, handling Argento's wide leaps with aplomb. But A Water Bird Talk is the more effective work; the lecturer's 41 minutes enchant, while Miss Havisham's half hour seems a bit too long. The recorded sound is excellent, and full English texts are printed for both operas.

-- James H. North, FANFARE [3/1998] Read less

Works on This Recording

A Water Bird Talk by Dominick Argento
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sara Watkins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of St Cecilia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Language: English 
Miss Havisham's Wedding Night by Dominick Argento
Performer:  Linda Mabbs (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sara Watkins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of St Cecilia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; USA 
Language: English 

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