Notes and Editorial Reviews
BETWEEN THE BLISS AND ME…
Julia Faulkner (sop); Martha Fischer (pn); Lee Hoiby (pn)
NAXOS 8.559731 (58: 37)
Nature, the gentlest mother. When they come back. Sleep is supposed to be. Heart, we will forget him. The world feels dusty. I felt a funeral in my brain. The Chariot. Why do they shut me out of heaven? Going to heaven!
Bee! I’m expecting you!
class="ARIAL12bi">The Butterfly. Aristocracy. I’m nobody, who are you? Wild Nights! The Sabbath.
To make a prairie. It’s all I have to bring. And this of all my hopes!
I gained it so.
I never saw a moor.
Bring me the sunset. Wild Nights!
The Shining Place. A Letter. How the waters closed. Wild Nights! There came a wind like a bugle
It is such a rare pleasure, nowadays, to hear a song recitalist on CD who does
have a wobble, a nasal tone, high note strain or some other major vocal defect, that one very nearly jumps with joy upon hearing a voice like Julia Faulkner’s. This is, quite simply, a lovely voice which does not lose its lyric beauty even at full volume, a voice that caresses the lyric line with a melting legato, a voice that can soften like melted butter in soft passages, a voice that has a bottom range as well as a top and is even in scale throughout. That being said, she has one bad tendency that unfortunately afflicts many singers nowadays in that she tends to swallow her consonants in slow legato passages (and sometimes in fast, rhythmic ones) to the point where her diction is only occasionally clear enough to make out the words.
This is not an insignificant defect, but alas it is not restricted to Faulkner; it seems to me that most American singers nowadays (and quite a few British ones) share this problem. If you can’t be understood in your native tongue, what’s the point in singing words at all? Moreover, if you don’t
the words of a sung poem—and Faulkner also has the problem of “just singing” everything, and only interpreting occasionally—you may as well be singing “la-de-da” instead of actual lyrics.
That being said, the music here is simply lovely in the best traditions of the American style that emerged in the 1940s with Copland’s more tonal style and has continued to the present day through the music of such songwriters as Ned Rorem and Lee Hoiby (who died, it seems, in 2011). I was equally delighted, and stimulated, by the slightly more angular musical line and more modern harmonies of Richard Pearson-Thomas, Lori Laitman, and Scott Gendel, whose songs also fit into the “American” mold quite nicely.
I should mention that these songs are grouped by topic rather than by composer, as in the headnotes. Thus the first set, “Poems of Nature,” runs as follows: Copland’s
When they come back,
To make a prairie
, and Copland’s
. The next is “Poems of Identity” featuring Bacon’s
It’s all I have to bring
I gained it so
I never saw a moor,
Bring me the sunset
. “Poems of Love” include both versions of
Gendel’s and Farwell’s, then after “Poems of Death” (all by Copland) and “Poems of Immortality” the disc closes with all of Hoiby’s songs under the grouping, “The Shining Place.” I should also mention that Martha Fischer’s accompaniments are positively alive with feeling—no cold or mechanical player she.
Although none of this music is particularly deep, it is all quite charming and, except for Faulkner’s lack of diction, a fine listening experience. Because of her diction problems, however, I recommend that you download the texts to these songs at naxos.com/sharedfiles/PDF/8.559731_sungtext.pdf, which will help you navigate your way through the words.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
I never saw a Moor by Richard Pearson Thomas
Julia Faulkner (Soprano),
Martha Fischer (Piano)
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 1. Nature, the gentlest mother
6 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 6. Bee! I'm expecting you!
10 Emily Dickinson Songs, Op. 108: No. 2. The butterfly
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 8. When they come back
12 Emily Dickinson Songs, Op. 105: No. 8. Aristocracy
5 Poems: No. 4. To make a prairie
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 7. Sleep is supposed to be
5 Poems: No. 1. It's all I have to bring
Between the Bliss and Me: No. 1. I gained it so...
10 Emily Dickinson Songs, Op. 108: No. 8. I'm nobody! Who are you?
Forgotten Light: Bring me the sunset
Forgotten Light: Wild nights!
5 Poems: No. 5. And this of all my hopes
10 Emily Dickinson Songs, Op. 112: No. 1. Wild nights!
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 5. Heart, we will forget him
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 4. The World feels dusty
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 9. I felt a funeral in my brain
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 12. The Chariot
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 3. Why do they shut me out of Heaven?
12 Emily Dickinson Songs, Op. 105: No. 3. The Sabbath
12 Poems of Emily Dickinson: No. 11. Going to Heaven!
The Shining Place: No. 1. The shining place
The Shining Place: No. 2. A Letter
The Shining Place: No. 3. How the waters closed
The Shining Place: No. 4. Wild nights
The Shining Place: No. 5. There came a wind like a bugle
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