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Wallach: Door Standing Open / Mattingly, Stroud, Carroll, Snider, University Of North Texas

Wallach / Carroll / Harlos
Release Date: 11/13/2012 
Label:  Four-tay   Catalog #: 4034  
Composer:  Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Stephen Alexander CarrollSteven HarlosMarie-therese MattinglyChie Watanabe,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University Of North Texas Conductors String quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



WALLACH The Cloths of Heaven. 3,6 Epistolary. 1,7 Making Love to the Milkman. 1,7 When Lost in the Forest. 2,6 From the Almanac of Last Things. 2,6 Spiritual. 2,6 Runes and Ritual. 5 Let Evening Come. 2,6 Read more class="ARIAL12bi"> The Door Standing Open. 4,8 Close Your Eyes. 1,7 The Nightwatch. 3,6 Broken-faced Gargoyles 3,6. String Quartet No. 2 9 1 Therese Mattingly (sop); 2 Avis Stroud (mez); 3 Stephen Alexander Carroll (ten); 4 Jeffrey Snider (bar); 5 Pamela Mia Paul, 6 Stephen Harlos, 7 Chie Watanabe, 8 Elvia Puccinelli (pn); 5 Felix Okschofka (vn); 5 Susan Dubois (va); 5 Nikola Ruževi? (vc); 9 The University of North Texas Conductors Str Qrt 4TAY (67:27)


Joelle Wallach grew up in Morocco before making her home in New York City and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University. She attained her doctorate from Manhattan School of Music (where she studied with John Corigliano). Her website, by the way (joellewallach.com), is a beautiful surfing experience, gorgeous of design and informative of content. As to the music itself, Wallach writes with confident assurance. Many of her songs are little gems.


The song The Cloths of Heaven is based on a poem by W. B. Yeats, and delivered by the deliciously light tenor of Stephen Alexander Carroll. The text speaks of a gorgeous romantic ideal, something which perhaps informs the rather strange idea of setting a real (anonymous) personal ad in The New York Review of Books . Again, the singer (this time soprano Marie Therese Mattingley) is fresh and appealing of voice; she is appealingly teasing in the song Making Love to the Milkman (“is this a fantasy or not?” is the question). Avis Stroud is a wonderful mezzo, her voice burnished but not heading towards the contralto. When Lost in the Forest is a whimsical song based on the Northwest Indians’ reliance on Nature’s wisdom. She sings the Spiritual (“Rocks and the firm roots of trees”) with a real heartfelt feel for the genre. The spiritual leads in to the first non-vocal piece, Runes and Ritual (for piano and strings). The title refers to the myth, magic, and folklore of Virginia. Wallach skillfully and evocatively takes a wide variety of material and gestures (from hymn tune to lullaby), turning them into a contrapuntal web that is really quite magical in and of itself. The piece easily sustains its 13-minute duration. The return to song, with Stroud as soloist, in Let Evening Come (on a text by Jane Kenyon) is most effective. The song is a meditation on oncoming death and in response Wallach invokes a crepuscular type of radiance. The Door Standing Open is a set of four songs on spiritual torment. There is identifiably more angst present, as befits the subject matter. Baritone Jeffrey Snider sings with great authority.


The purity of Close Your Eyes (text D. H. Lawrence), a plea for emotions in love, is rapt and full of wonder, a proper contrast to the set of four songs just heard. The most desolate music on the disc is reserved for “Assurance” (the second and last song of The Nightwatch ). Here piano textures are disintegrated down to a low-pitched minimum under a high, keening, mournful tenor line. The recording’s strengths (superb reproduction of vocal timbre and piano sound) are shown to their absolute best here. Alexander Carroll reveals he is capable of depth too in Broken-faced Gargoyles , a telling depiction in music of the numb emotional exhaustion that can accompany the loss of a loved one. The mood seems to bleed into the first movement of Wallach’s Second String Quartet which itself refers to a poem by Yeats and which was composed in the aftermath of the untimely death of her husband. The effect of the music is of tracking the various stages of someone’s grief (bereavement theory is a notoriously tricky area, in which various writers have named various stages, but the problem is that the stages often overlap and rarely come “in order”). What we have here, then, are the stages of Wallach’s own grief, laid bare in what must surely have been a cathartic, not to mention brave, essay. The performance is simply beautiful, the whole experience infinitely touching. The actual title of the disc is “The Door Standing Open,” which apart from being the title of the mini-song cycle could, I suppose, have multiple meanings regarding bereavement. Or maybe I’m reading too much in to it. Recommended.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Post-Millennial Love Songs: no 2, The Clothes of Heaven by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Stephen Alexander Carroll (Tenor), Steven Harlos (Piano)
2.
Daughters of Silence: no 5, Epistolary by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Marie-therese Mattingly (Soprano), Chie Watanabe (Piano)
3.
Love in the Early Morning: no 2, Making Love to the Milkman by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Marie-therese Mattingly (Soprano), Chie Watanabe (Piano)
4.
The Dream of Now: no 5, When Lost in the Forest by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Steven Harlos (Piano), Avis Stroud (Mezzo Soprano)
5.
The Dream of Now: no 6, From the Almanac of Last Things by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Steven Harlos (Piano), Avis Stroud (Mezzo Soprano)
6.
Spiritual by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Steven Harlos (Piano), Avis Stroud (Mezzo Soprano)
7.
Runes and Rituals by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Nikola Ruzevic (Cello), Felix Olschofka (Violin), Susan Dubois (Viola),
Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
8.
Let Evening Come by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Steven Harlos (Piano), Avis Stroud (Mezzo Soprano)
9.
The Door Standing Open by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Jeffrey Snider (Baritone), Elvia Puccinelli (Piano)
10.
Post-Millennial Love Songs: no 1, Close Your Eyes by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Marie-therese Mattingly (Soprano), Chie Watanabe (Piano)
11.
The Nightwatch by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Stephen Alexander Carroll (Tenor), Steven Harlos (Piano)
12.
Broken-faced Gargoyles by Joelle Wallach
Performer:  Stephen Alexander Carroll (Tenor), Steven Harlos (Piano)
13.
Quartet for Strings no 2 by Joelle Wallach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University Of North Texas Conductors String quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 

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