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Terrain Of The Heart: Song Cycles Of Mark Abel

Abel / Chamberlin / Pisturino / Kirsch
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Delos   Catalog #: 3438   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mark Abel
Performer:  Jamie ChamberlinVictoria KirschAriel Pisturino
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

M. ABEL The Dark-Eyed Chameleon 1. 5 Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke 2. Rainbow Songs 1 1 Jamie Chamberlin, 2 Ariel Pisturino (sop); Victoria Kirsch (pn) DELOS 3438 (73:35 Text and Translation)

Journalist-turned-composer and lyricist Mark Abel’s Read more previous song cycle, The Dream Gallery , requires an orchestra and seven soloists. His new cycles are shorter and can be sung by one soloist with piano accompaniment. On his newly released collection, Terrain of the Heart , Jamie Chamberlin sings The Dark-Eyed Chameleon and Rainbow Songs while Ariel Pisturino sings Five Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke . Pianist Victoria Kirsch accompanies both sopranos. Like Janá?ek, Abel’s music tends to mimic speech patterns, but his accompaniments combine elements of rock, jazz, and 20th-century classical music. The Dark-Eyed Chameleon looks back on the emotional pain of lost love and the free rhythmic design of its first song, “The Burned Horizon,” allows the beat to change with the text. “Full Sail” recounts the joys of falling in love in retrospect. Chamberlin sings with musical precision and excellent diction, but I wish she had more overtones to color her sound. “Premonition” describes the lover’s discovery of a growing rift in the relationship, while “Your Girl” speaks of the other partner’s sweet young daughter. “Cataclysm,” the long-expected break, concludes the cycle. Chamberlin sings with a straight tone as she pleads with her lover to reconsider, and the piano thunders its description of heartbreak. Her lack of vibrato describes the feeling of being swept out to sea as she learns to accept the inevitable.

Ariel Pisturino sings Abel’s Five Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke . Their idiomatic translations from German are by Robert Bly. “The Last House” is not necessarily a home, just a marker on the path of life, which as Rilke reminds us is a journey into the unknown. Rilke battled depression and his poetry is often marked by it, but most of these selections tend to be hopeful and Abel’s music underlines that aspect. The colorations of Pisturino’s low tones speak volumes about the many stops on the journey. Her voice has a bit of heft to it and her creamy legato helps describe some of Abel’s more introspective songs. The two final songs, “You, Darkness that I Come From” and “I Live My Life in Growing Orbits” are overpowering pieces that can make listeners sit back and think about their own life paths. The last line asks, “Am I, a falcon, a storm, or a great song?” Here poet, composer, singer, and pianist collaborate in a great performance.

Each of Abel’s Rainbow Songs was written separately and only later formed into a cycle. Three speak of relationships and the fourth reminds us of the fortitude that it takes to be a survivor. The first two songs extol the glories of nature but at the end of the second, “Breezes Blow and Eagles Fly,” we know the couple will part on good terms but their time together is at an end. “La Sonnambula” (The Sleepwalker), no relation to the Bellini opera, walks along through the night in a silent city expecting to meet with the lover who waits for her. Chamberlin describes the scene with the radiance of her high notes. In the final song, “The Guest” is one’s own spirit, a part of each of us that provides the strength to endure more than we ever thought possible. Chamberlin sings with plaintive tones that her lover has left and she is alone. Then, with all the luster of her full voice, she proclaims that she will survive. The sound on this recording is clear and the words are always understandable. I enjoyed these new songs and recommend them to lovers of 20th- and 21st-century music.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

The Dark-Eyed Chameleon, for voice & keyboards by Mark Abel
Performer:  Jamie Chamberlin (), Victoria Kirsch (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Matthew Snyder Recordings, Burbank, CA 
Length: 27 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke (5), for soprano & piano by Mark Abel
Performer:  Ariel Pisturino (), Victoria Kirsch (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Matthew Snyder Recordings, Burbank, CA 
Length: 20 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Rainbow Songs, for soprano & piano by Mark Abel
Performer:  Jamie Chamberlin (), Victoria Kirsch (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Matthew Snyder Recordings, Burbank, CA 
Length: 22 Minutes 43 Secs. 

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