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Charles Wuorinen Series - Vocal Works


Release Date: 11/06/2007 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 968   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Ryan McPhersonPhillip BushMary NessingerJacqueline Leclair,   ... 
Conductor:  Charles Wuorinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cygnus EnsembleChamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

All the singers negotiate Wuorinen's treacherous, wildly disjunct vocal lines with utter confidence and commitment, but tenor Ryan MacPherson, soprano Elizabeth Farnum, and especially soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, stand out for the warmth and expressiveness they bring to the music.

This series devoted to Charles Wuorinen, one of America’s most significant composers, brings together 12 vocal works, all but one written in the last two decades. Most of the shorter selections were composed for the Works and Process at the Guggenheim series in New York, and were designed for programs honoring the various poets (Les Murray, John Ashbery, Derek Walcott, Stanley Kunitz and Paul Auster.)

R I E V I E W
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More than a third of the pieces on this 2007 release of vocal music by Charles Wuorinen were written since the turn of the millennium, with most of the rest dating from the previous decade, with only one as early as 1970. While no one could accuse the composer of undue lyricism or going soft on his aesthetic convictions and giving in to the siren song of neo-romanticism, these works are more audience-friendly than some of the uncompromisingly modernist works of his early career. Part of the reason may have something to do with their length -- a song is short enough for a listener to get his or her mind around much more easily than an extended movement of chamber or orchestral music. Wuorinen also uses interesting and unconventional accompaniments; some songs are written for piano, but often the accompaniment is a chamber ensemble or a single instrument, such as English horn, violin, or harp. The use of texts also has a familiarizing effect; if the listener starts out knowing what the emotional tone of a piece is going to be, it's easier to relate that meaning to even difficult musical languages. Wuorinen's vocal works aren't consistently persuasive -- some are just too jagged and inscrutable to offer much of a toehold for the listener -- but others, while using the same complex harmonic and melodic language, have a clear dramatic trajectory that both reflects and expands on the meaning of the texts. Among the more compelling songs are "Two Machine Portraits" (2001), with texts by Les Murray, which is practically whimsical, and the four emotionally direct and idiomatically differentiated songs to texts by James Fenton (1997). The most immediately engaging is the completely charming "Christes Crosse of Thomas Morley" (1994), which has an uncharacteristically lyrical vocal line, with a piano accompaniment that begins in a faux-Renaissance style and grows increasingly frenetic until it eventually sounds like Nancarrow. The recordings, made with a variety of soloists and instrumentalists, were made between 1993 and 2006. All the singers negotiate Wuorinen's treacherous, wildly disjunct vocal lines with utter confidence and commitment, but tenor Ryan MacPherson, soprano Elizabeth Farnum, and especially soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, stand out for the warmth and expressiveness they bring to the music.

- Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide
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Works on This Recording

1.
Two Machine Portraits by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Ryan McPherson (Tenor), Phillip Bush (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
2.
The Long Boat by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Mary Nessinger (Mezzo Soprano), Jacqueline Leclair (English Horn)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003; USA 
3.
Twang by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano), James Winn (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Notes: Originally issued on Koch International Classics 
4.
Lightenings no 8 by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Elizabeth Farnum (Soprano), James Winn (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993-1994; USA 
Notes: Originally issued on Koch International Classics 
5.
Visible by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Mary Nessinger (Mezzo Soprano), Mark Steinberg (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2004; USA 
6.
September 11, 2001 by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  William Ferguson (Tenor), Phillip Bush (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
7.
Fenton Songs by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Elizabeth Farnum (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cygnus Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997-1998 
Notes: Originally issued on CRI 
8.
Christes Crosse by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Alan Feinberg (Piano), Elizabeth Farnum (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
9.
Pentecost by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Ryan MacPherson (Tenor), June Han (Harp)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
10.
Song to the Lute in Musicke by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  James Winn (Piano), Elizabeth Farnum (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USA 
11.
Stanzas before Time by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Ryan MacPherson (Tenor), June Han (Harp)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
12.
A Winter's Tale by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Wuorinen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990-1991; USA 
Notes: Originally issued on Koch International Classics  
13.
Lightenings no 8 by Charles Wuorinen
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993-1994; USA 

Sound Samples

2 Machine Portraits
The Long Boat
Twang
Lightenings VIII
Visible
September 11, 2001
Fenton Songs (version 2): No. 1. Beauty, Danger and Dismay
Fenton Songs (version 2): No. 2. Out of Danger
Fenton Songs (version 2): No. 3. Serious
Fenton Songs (version 2): No. 4. Hinterhof
Christes Crosse
Pentecost
A Song to the Lute in Musicke
Stanzas Before Time
A Winter's Tale

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