Notes and Editorial Reviews
George Crumb returns to his favorite poet, Lorca, for the texts of Ghosts of Alhambra, even including one (Malagueña) that he set previously. Crumb's style by now is well known: the extended performance techniques (both vocal and instrumental), evocative percussion, and the atmospheric contrast between tonal and non-tonal materials. This work is a trio, for baritone, guitar, and one percussionist. It's a sign of Crumb's compositional virtuosity at this late stage that there's not a trace of thinness to his textures. The guitar writing is exquisite, and exquisitely played by David Starobin. Daniel Druckman handles the kitchen implements, while baritone Patrick Mason couldn't sound better.
Voices from a Forgotten World, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, piano (amplified), and percussion quartet, is the fifth in Crumb's American Songbook series, an amazing set of works in which familiar song tunes are re-imagined in consistently wonderful ways. This particular collection includes such classics as Simple Gifts, The House of the Rising Sun, and an expressionistic treatment of Beautiful Dreamer. One of the more satisfying aspects of this series is that the various songbooks can be combined to make rewarding, evening-length programs, thereby (hopefully) helping to guarantee them the exposure that they deserve. As with The Ghosts of Alhambra, the performances are all that one could ask for, and the engineering is, as usual for this series, superb. Not to be missed.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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