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Rorem: Songs / Rorem , Curtin, Bressler, Gramm, Et Al


Release Date: 10/10/2006 
Label:  Other Minds Records   Catalog #: 1009   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ned Rorem
Performer:  Gianna D'AngeloNed RoremPhyllis CurtinDonald Gramm,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ROREM Songs Ned Rorem (pn); Charles Bressler (ten); Phyllis Curtin (sop); Gianna d’Angelo (sop); Donald Gramm (bs); Regina Sarfaty (mez) OTHER MINDS 1009, analog (57:03)


This disc duplicates a Columbia LP, recorded in November, December, and January, 1962–63. The recordings, texts, and annotations are faithfully reproduced, with further notes reflecting Ned Rorem’s subsequent successes. The composer chose five of his favorite singers for this first disc devoted to his songs. The earliest song, a setting of Read more Gerald Manley Hopkins’s Spring and Fall , is from 1946, when the composer was 23; the latest, a setting of Theodore Roethke’s My Papa’s Waltz , is from 1959.


The 32 songs are presented in seven unequal groupings. The first offers five songs to poems by Renaissance or early modern English poets—John Dryden, Robert Herrick (two), Ben Jonson, and Orlando Gibbons; next are Psalms 134, 148, and 150, all sung by Phyllis Curtin; the third group consists of songs setting poems by Paul Goodman (four, mostly cheerful) and Theodore Roethke (three, mostly disturbing); the fourth group consists of settings of modern poems by Robert Hillyer, Gertrude Stein, Howard Moss, and Elizabeth Bishop; the fifth consists of “Three Medieval Poems” by the prolific Anon., A Christmas Carol, The Nightingale , and The Call ; the sixth set begins with songs setting two poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, followed by three by Walt Whitman; and the final set is a wide-ranging group of five that includes songs to poems of Robert Browning (two), Padriac Pears, Edmund Spenser, and Robert Louis Stevenson.


Each of the five singers makes it clear why Rorem enjoyed performing with them. I had never heard Regina Sarfaty before, though she was active for decades in grand opera and concerts, so I was especially struck by her singing in the Pulitzer Prize-winning song, The Lordly Hudson (1947, poem by Paul Goodman) and in the chillingly comic depiction of insanity in text, voice, and piano in Visits to St. Elizabeths (1957, poem by Elizabeth Bishop).


All the songs demonstrate Rorem’s talent for direct communication and creating music that supports texts and intensifies their meanings. The earliest songs are fine, the later ones perhaps more likely to surprise with unusual turns of the vocal line and dramatic effects in the piano. Over 40 years later, this disc is a model for how effective recorded song recitals can be. We have here an ideal combination: the excellence of the texts, the talent of the singers, the clarity and sheer rightness of the settings, the composer’s skill at the keyboard, and the fine recording achieved by Columbia’s engineers.


Comparisons with three other collections are instructive. “Hearing” (Premier 1035, 1982–83) offers 13 of the songs presented on the Columbia LP, performed by Rosalind Rees and Rorem. “Rorem, Selected Songs” (Naxos 8.559084, 2000) contains 14, performed by Carole Farley and Rorem. But “Songs of Ned Rorem” (Erato 80222, 1999) has only six, and has pianist Malcolm Martineau collaborating with mezzo Susan Graham. Curiously, all four collections have 32 songs. Does this have any significance? Perhaps the composer did not wish any of the later collections to gain or lose a competitive edge with more or fewer songs. That may be why the second one has as its complete title, “Hearing: 32 Songs of Ned Rorem,” even though the last five songs are actually scenes in the “small opera,” Hearing , where soprano Reese is joined by three other soloists and an instrumental ensemble conducted by her husband, Gregg Smith. Because Rorem has written hundreds of songs, one might regret so much duplication from one disc to the next. After some comparing of performances, I was glad for the duplications, because one could hear fascinating differences from one singer to another, along with corresponding modifications in Rorem’s, or Martineau’s part.


FANFARE: Robert McColley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Song for a Girl by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Gianna D'Angelo (Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
The Nightingale by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Phyllis Curtin (Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Flight for Heaven: To the Willow Tree by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Donald Gramm (Bass)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Language: English 
4.
Echo's Song by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Charles Bressler (Tenor), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Language: English 
5.
Flight for Heaven: Julia's Clothes by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Donald Gramm (Bass)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Language: English 
6.
Silver Swan by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Gianna D'Angelo (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Language: English 
7.
The Lordly Hudson by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Language: English 
8.
Snake by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Gianna D'Angelo (Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
Language: English 
9.
Rain in the Spring by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Language: English 
10.
Root Cellar by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Donald Gramm (Bass), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
Language: English 
11.
Sally's Smile by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Donald Gramm (Bass), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USA 
Language: English 
12.
Such beauty as hurts to behold by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
Language: English 
13.
My Papa's Waltz by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Donald Gramm (Bass), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
Language: English 
14.
Early in the morning by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Donald Gramm (Bass), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USA 
Language: English 
15.
I am Rose by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USA 
Language: English 
16.
See how they love me by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Charles Bressler (Tenor), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Language: English 
17.
Visits to St. Elizabeth's by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
Language: English 
18.
A Christmas Carol by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Charles Bressler (Tenor), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952 
Language: English 
19.
The Call by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Donald Gramm (Bass), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Language: English 
20.
Spring and Fall by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Donald Gramm (Bass), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Language: English 
21.
Spring by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Phyllis Curtin (Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Language: English 
22.
To You by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Phyllis Curtin (Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
Language: English 
23.
Youth, Day, Old Age and Night by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Charles Bressler (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; USA 
Language: English 
24.
O you whom I often and silently come by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 
Language: English 
25.
Pippa's Song by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Gianna D'Angelo (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Language: English 
26.
Lullaby of the Woman of the Mountain by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Charles Bressler (Tenor), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Language: English 
27.
What if some little pain by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Language: English 
28.
In a Gondola by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Gianna D'Angelo (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Language: English 
29.
Requiem by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Charles Bressler (Tenor), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Language: English 
30.
Cycle of Holy Songs: Behold, bless ye the Lord by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Phyllis Curtin (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Language: English 
31.
Cycle of Holy Songs: Praise ye the Lord from the heavens by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Ned Rorem (Piano), Phyllis Curtin (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Language: English 
32.
Cycle of Holy Songs: Praise ye the Lord, praise God in his sanctuary by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Phyllis Curtin (Soprano), Ned Rorem (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
Language: English 

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