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Leo Smit: Song Cycles / Georgine Resick, Warren Jones


Release Date: 05/08/2007 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9227   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Leo Smit
Performer:  Georgine ResickWarren Jones
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SMIT Beyond Circumference. 3 Poems of Marcia Willieme. The Marigold Heart Georgine Resick (sop); Warren Jones (pn) BRIDGE 9227 (61:21 Text and Translation)


Leo Smit’s music deserves greater currency, and it is typical of the enterprising label Bridge Records to do the honors. This disc of song cycles reveals just how skillful a composer Smit (1921–1999) really was. His own introduction to himself is dated April 1999 and is like reading a Who’s Who of 20th-century music. Read more Kabalevsky “taught him Adagio ” (his own words); Stravinsky, Copland, Bartók, Shapero, and Foss all had paths that crossed Smit’s in one way or another. No wonder he wrote with such assurance.


The present disc is called “Song Cycles.” Beyond Circumference (“18 Songs about Death, Faith and Immortality”) is actually Cycle 4 of Smit’s huge The Ecstatic Pilgrimage (1988–1991), settings of the poetry of the great Emily Dickinson, while The Marigold Heart (“15 Songs about Love, Loss and Renunciation”) comprises Cycle 5. There is no doubt that, as we listen, we experience this is a master at setting poetry. Smit’s response to the texts is that of an almost total identification. Georgine Resick sings with real affinity to both composer and poet. Her voice is well controlled and very pleasing in the lower to middle dynamics (there is something very conspiratorial about the way she delivers the first poem on the disc, almost as if it were for the listener’s ears only). Warren Jones, too, is unfailingly musical. Dickinson’s poems must be incredibly difficult to set. They are frequently elliptical in meaning and, oh my, those dashes! Smit’s achievement is to convey the essential intimacy of utterance that lies at the poetry’s heart by using a harmonic language that is intrinsically beautiful and essentially American. Resick’s voice is pure, but I could do with a little more variety of tone (a failing her excellent pianist does not suffer from). The slightly dry recording does not help (it could have used a little more depth and possibly the smallest addition of reverb). Of the first set, maybe the most effective is the 10th, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes,” with its tramping piano part; or then again maybe it is the hypnotically beautiful 13th, “I went to Heaven.” But part of the difficulty of finding favorites is the consistency of it all. This is not to imply any sense of tedium; rather, one must give full attention, poetry in hand, to what is going on. This is subtle music. The granitic chords of the final song of Beyond Circumference , climactic in purpose, make a huge impact precisely because of the acres of subtlety that preceded them.


The two larger cycles are separated by the seven-minute Three Poems of Marcia Willieme , which post-dates the Dickinson settings. The harmonic language is possibly a little more astringent, particularly in the animated second poem, “Bus Tour: Boston in the Rain.” Marcia Willieme’s poetry is fascinating, and so different on the surface from Dickinson’s.


The return to the world of Dickinson for The Marigold Heart is aurally obvious. The sound world is immediately warmer, more inviting—like arriving home, one might say. Again, it is well-nigh impossible to isolate highlights, as this boils down more to what resonates with the listener more than to variations in quality of performance or of composition. “There came a Day at Summer’s full” is one which stood out for me, but that probably tells you more about me than it does about Smit. The bullet-like piano chords of the next setting, “My life had stood—a loaded gun” stand in highest contrast. There is much beauty here, too (try the brief “Extol thee—should I?”), a beauty which even suffuses the more turbulent songs (“Tide divine—is mine!”).


The booklet for the present issue is almost worth the price of the entire product. There are many photos of the composer (usually, but not always, with somebody famous), plus informed writing by Morris Grossman and Nils Vigeland (as well as two pages by the composer himself). Full texts are also included. Incidentally, there is a complementary issue with Rosalind Rees as soprano and the composer himself on the piano on Bridge 9080, which presents 33 Dickinson settings.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1. The Marigold Heart by Leo Smit
Performer:  Georgine Resick (Soprano), Warren Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 20 Minutes 7 Secs. 
2. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": The Sun kept setting by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
3. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": I died for beauty by Leo Smit
Performer:  Georgine Resick (Soprano), Warren Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
4. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": Of course...I prayed by Leo Smit
Performer:  Georgine Resick (Soprano), Warren Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
5. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": 'Twas the old road ...through pain by Leo Smit
Performer:  Georgine Resick (Soprano), Warren Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: English 
6. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": I shall know why...when time is over by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 19 Secs. 
7. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": Of tolling bell I ask the cause? by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 6 Secs. 
8. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": I saw no way by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 17 Secs. 
9. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": I heard a fly by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 32 Secs. 
10. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": Go slow my soul to feed thyself by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs. 
11. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": After great pain, a formal feeling comes by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
12. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": I've seen a dying eye by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 0 Secs. 
13. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": At least to pray is left by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 5 Secs. 
14. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": I went to Heaven by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 33 Secs. 
15. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": The first Day's Night had come by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 59 Secs. 
16. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": We dream...it is good we are dreaming by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
17. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": What if I say I shall not wait! by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 5 Secs. 
18. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": That such have died enable us by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 0 Minutes 35 Secs. 
19. The Ecstatic Pilgrimage - Cycle 4 "Beyond Circumference": Departed ...to the judgement by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs. 
20. Poems (3) of Marcia Willieme: And all the air is still by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
21. Poems (3) of Marcia Willieme: Bus tour: Boston in the rain by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
22. Poems (3) of Marcia Willieme: In the Celestial Computer by Leo Smit
Performer:  Warren Jones (Piano), Georgine Resick (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 

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