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Song Of America / Thomas Hampson


Release Date: 11/08/2005 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 41645   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ned RoremStephen FosterTraditionalHaydn Wood,   ... 
Performer:  Thomas HampsonCraig RutenbergJay UngarMolly Mason,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The concept behind this release is expressed thus in the accompanying annotation: “Thomas Hampson’s long-standing collaboration with the Library of Congress grew out of a vision shared with Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to present and celebrate the American song repertoire and to reveal to new audiences the breadth and depth of the Library’s unparalleled collections of musical scores and recordings.” The variety of copyright dates and accompanists associated with the 20 tracks on the disc indicate that it’s compiled from three previous Hampson releases, dating respectively from 1990, 1992, and 1997. No matter; this stylish recital couldn’t be a more satisfying listen if all 20 had been recorded from scratch in 2005.
Read more /> Thomas Hampson’s vocal artistry has, without doubt, been praised repeatedly in these pages with greater insight and erudition than I can hope to bring to bear, so I’ll confine myself to a few points of particular relevance to this particular repertoire: First, that the application of portamento is surely more liberal than would be the case with, say, Handel or Schubert, but unfailingly tasteful. Second, with respect to the half-dozen Stephen Foster tracks, Hampson fully recognizes that the emotional themes of these parlor songs are often as profound as any essayed by Schubert or Mahler, and there’s not the least trace of condescension in any of these renditions. Last, and admittedly least, the long roster of distinguished accompanists is joined by Hampson himself as whistler in Foster’s Molly, Do You Love Me?—to the marginal embarrassment of the present writer, himself a decently trained countertenor, whose whistling compass approaches a perfect fourth on a good day.

The near-decade chronological span of these recordings seems to invite some comment on what they show of the evolution of the Hampson instrument—a topic that I approach with some diffidence, being less of a solo-voice maven than many of my Fanfare colleagues. If some darkening of the voice seems in evidence from the earliest tracks to the latest, the Antiques Roadshow fan in me prompts the observation that this is no more objectionable here than it would be in the finish of a fine piece of period furniture.

The headnote of this review is cumbersome enough without going into the matter of text authorship; so it should be noted here that Stephen Foster’s prominence as composer is equaled by the authorial contributions of Hampson’s avowed favorite poet Walt Whitman, also represented by a half-dozen settings from big names including Rorem, Bernstein, Weill, and H. T. Burleigh; and not-so-big names including Charles Naginski, prematurely silenced by his drowning death at 31, and Elinor Remick Warren, of whom Hampson writes that “she quite rightly got her ‘three minutes in the sun’ but is now unjustly neglected. . . . Now that Amy Beach’s songs are being performed a lot, I have my hopes that Elinor Remick Warren will be re-discovered next—her music is wonderful, one of the building blocks of American song culture.”

Notwithstanding the multifarious provenance of these recordings, sound quality is satisfyingly intimate and balanced throughout. Hampson’s own annotations, at once insightful and conversational, are as pleasurable to read as his singing is to hear. But one complaint I bet you’ve never seen in these pages before: I have had a couple of occasions to point out to banks and Internet ISPs that I refuse to take responsibility for accurately transcribing a string of 13 or 14 digits with no intervening spaces or punctuation; and furthermore that with that many digits one can create something on the order of 10,000 account numbers for every man, woman, child, and transgender person on the planet. But I never thought I’d find myself lodging a similar complaint about a CD catalog number. What on earth is the point of all those digits? Does it matter to EMI whether reviewers like me have a fighting chance of being able to report catalog numbers accurately to potential buyers?

As to the buy-or-don’t-buy question, my first impulse, perversely enough, would be to cut to the chase and grab up copies of all three of the 1990s-vintage releases from which this one was assembled. Not an option, alas; only the 1992 Foster compilation remains available (and eminently recommendable). The present release, by my lights, would be worth any halfway-reasonable price solely for the near-unbearably moving Whitman settings of Naginski and Bernstein; so don’t wait till it suffers the same fate as its 1990 and 1997 predecessors.

FANFARE: James Carson
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Works on This Recording

1.
As Adam early in the morning by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Craig Rutenberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
Ah! May the red rose live alway by Stephen Foster
Performer:  Jay Ungar (Violin), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Molly Mason (Guitar),
David Alpher (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Shenandoah by Traditional
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Armen Guzelimian (Piano)
Written: USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
Roses of Picardy by Haydn Wood
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Armen Guzelimian (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: English 
5.
Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair [after Stephen Foster] by Ned Rorem
Performer:  David Alpher (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Jay Ungar (Violin),
Molly Mason (Guitar), Michael Parloff (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Language: English 
6.
Hard times come again no more by Stephen Foster
Performer:  Tony Trischka (Banjo), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Molly Mason (Voice),
Mark Rust (Voice), Garrison Keillor (Voice), Jay Ungar (Violin),
David Alpher (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: English 
7.
Molly, do you love me? by Stephen Foster
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Thomas Hampson (Whistling), Jay Ungar (Violin),
Molly Mason (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
Erie Canal by Traditional
Performer:  Armen Guzelimian (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
9.
We Two by Elinor Remick Warren
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Craig Rutenberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: English 
10.
The Nightingale by Traditional
Performer:  Armen Guzelimian (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Written: China 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: English 
11.
Comrades, Fill No Glass For Me! by Steven Foster
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Molly Mason (Bass Guitar), Jay Ungar (Violin),
David Alpher (Piano), Evan Stover (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: English 
12.
Luke Havergal by John Woods Duke
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Armen Guzelimian (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: English 
13.
Songfest: To What You Said by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Craig Rutenberg (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: English 
14.
Look down fair moon by Charles Naginski
Performer:  Craig Rutenberg (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: English 
15.
Walt Whitman Songs (4): Dirge for two veterans by Kurt Weill
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Craig Rutenberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1947; USA 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
16.
Ethiopia Saluting the Colors by Henry Thacker Burleigh
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Craig Rutenberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; USA 
Length: 6 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: English 
17.
Beautiful dreamer by Stephen Foster
Performer:  Molly Mason (Guitar), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Jay Ungar (Mandolin),
David Alpher (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1864; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
18.
Poems (2) of Masefield: no 1, An Old Song Re-sung by Charles Tomlinson Griffes
Performer:  Armen Guzelimian (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: English 
19.
Tomorrow by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Armen Guzelimian (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: English 
20.
Danny Deever, Op. 2 no 7 by Walter Damrosch
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Armen Guzelimian (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

As Adam Early in the Morning
Ah! May The Red Rose Live Always
Shenandoah (arr. Roger Ames)
Beautiful Dreamer
Danny Deever Op. 2 No. 7
Roses of Picardy
Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair
Hard Times Come Again No More
Molly! Do You Love Me?
An Old Song Re-Sung
Tomorrow Op. 33
The Erie Canal (arr. Roger Ames)
We Two
The Nightingale (East Tennessee and Virginia Ballad) (adapted & arr. Clifford Shaw)
Comrades, Fill No Glass For Me
Luke Havergal
To What You Said
Look Down Fair Moon
Dirge for Two Veterans
Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

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