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Notorious RBG in Song / Michaels, Huang


Release Date: 06/08/2018 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 178  
Composer:  Patrice MichaelsLori LaitmanVivian FungStacy Garrop,   ... 
Performer:  Patrice MichaelsKuang-Hao Huang
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a difficult production to review, not just because Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become such a significant figure in modern American life, but because the range of her achievements–whether as a jurist or as a wife, mother, opera maven, attorney, professional colleague and feminist icon–resists purely musical treatment. That’s not a reason to hesitate in offering her this lovingly produced tribute. Like RBG herself, who responded to the notion that women had no place in the legal profession by going ahead and doing it anyway, Cedille General Manager Jim Ginsburg (her son) and singer Patrice Michaels (her daughter-in-law) have taken the plunge with evident gusto.

The main item here is The Longview, an
Read more imposing portrait of RBG in nine songs composed by Michaels for voice and piano in an attractive, post-modern tonal idiom. There are vivid and beautiful numbers here, especially the central Anita’s Story, a wonderful tale of the power of Ginsburg’s words to change a life; but for many listeners the main interest will lie in the eighth song’s quotations of Ginsburg’s own legal opinions. Imagine setting this to music to get an idea of what Michaels is up to: “I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious.” What results from this effort is not so much a conventional song cycle as a theater piece–I could readily imagine it staged, particularly as Michaels, whose voice is hardly conventionally beautiful but whose intelligent artistry is beyond question, performs it here.

The remainder of the program consists of four songs by four different composers, all inspired by RBG’s life and legend. Vivian Fung’s “Pot Roast à la RBG” is the most amusing; Stacy Garrop’s “My Dearest Ruth”, a love letter written by husband Martin Ginsburg from his death bed, is the most touching. I suspect that more than a few tears were shed both here and elsewhere during this project. Through it all, Michaels receives ideally sensitive support from pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, while Cedille’s engineering, as usual, is first class. The final impression that emerges is a portrait of a family as much as of an individual–a very remarkable family indeed. I suspect that RBG may regard this as her greatest achievement of all.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
The Long View: A Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Patrice Michaels
Performer:  Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: United States 
2.
Wider Than the Sky, for voice & piano by Lori Laitman
Performer:  Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2002; United States 
3.
Pot Roast à la RBG by Vivian Fung
Performer:  Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: Canada 
4.
My Dearest Ruth by Stacy Garrop
Performer:  Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: United States 
5.
Scalia/Ginsburg: You Are Searching in Vain for a Bright-Line Solution by Derrick Wang
Performer:  Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: United States 

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