"The emotional impact of “Mortality Mansions,” weighty to begin with, grew even more poignant with the death of the 89-year-old poet Donald Hall at the end of June. In this shimmering, expressive song cycle, subtitled “Songs of Love and Loss After 60,” the verses of the former U.S. poet laureate — at once stately and urgent, rueful and earthy — find a beautiful counterpart in the music of composer Herschel Garfein. The poems are lyrical meditations on the physicality of old age, with particular emphasis on Eros, and the spirit of Hall’s wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon, who died of cancer at 47, lingers over the cycle like a benign presence. Garfein’s settings match the graceful elegance of Hall’s writing, with just the right touch ofRead more deference. You can hear the younger artist ceding center stage to his senior colleague, while shaping each poem into something new and vibrant. In an ingenious touch, each of the 11 songs in the cycle is presented twice: Once in a beautiful rendition by tenor Michael Slattery and pianist Dimitri Dover, and again with Hall himself reading with piano accompaniment. This final project stands as a lovely, elegiac seal on Hall’s career." - J. Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle
In this unique Delos album, two-time Grammy Award-winning composer, librettist, and producer Herschel Garfein introduces Mortality Mansions: a stunning new song cycle setting poems by former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall. Hall’s plain-spoken, yet profound poetry reveals his candid perspectives on aging, with its inevitable physical decline, fears, personal losses, and emotional trials. Yet he balances these negative aspects with such persisting joys and pleasures as loving companionship and physical intimacy. Garfein’s music effectively envelops Hall’s verses like a glove, illuminating their attendant moods, potent emotions, and stark verbal imagery. The album includes an interlude of Hall’s readings of his poetry, and ends with a memorable epilogue: Garfein’s pensive setting of a moving poem by Jane Kenyon, Hall’s late wife. Tenor Michael Slattery performs the song cycle brilliantly, and soprano Marnie Breckenridge interprets the epilogue to devastating effect. Exceptional piano collaboration comes courtesy of Dimitri Dover.
In this shimmering, expressive song cycle the verses of the former U.S. poet laureate — at once stately and urgent, rueful and earthy — find a beautiful counterpart in the music of composer Herschel Garfein. The poems are lyrical meditations on the physicality of old age. Garfein’s settings match the graceful elegance of Hall’s writing, with just the right touch of deference. This final project stands as a lovely, elegiac seal on Hall’s career.
Mortality Mansionsby Herschel Garfein Performer:
Marnie Breckenridge (Soprano),
Michael Slattery (Tenor),
Dimitri Dover (Piano),
Donald Hall (Voice)
Period: Contemporary Written: United States
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A new and moving song cycleJune 15, 2018By K. Kush (Boston, MA)See All My Reviews"This sumptuous CD presents a song cycle of late-life love poems of Donald Hall. I hear echoes of Hanns Eisler's Hollywood Songbook in the music. The songs beautifully express the poems; the vocals are gorgeous. Hall reads some poems as well. And never has there been such a CD booklet: all poems beautifully presented, fascinating essays, gorgeous photos. A very ssatisfying collaboration."Report Abuse