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Blitzstein: Zipperfly & Other Songs / Sharp, Holvik, Blier


Release Date: 04/1991 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7050   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven BlierWilliam SharpKaren Holvik
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

Special Order:  This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 business days.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Born in 1905, Marc Blitzstein was a slightly younger contemporary of George Gershwin, Virgil Thomson, and Aaron Copland; he is best remembered for his Broadway operas The Cradle Will Rock and Regina, and for his adaptation of The Three-Penny Opera, the Arena Stage production of which ran for 2611 performances in New York. He is probably the most neglected of America's major composers, but there are signs of revival in the air. After ten years of research, Eric Gordon's major biography, Mark the Music, appeared in 1989; the American Composers Orchestra gave the world premiere of the 1934 Orchestra Variations on October 9, 1988, to tumultuous applause; and a first recording of the 1934 piano concerto has appeared on disc (Fanfare 12:4). Now Read more we have the widest collection of his songs and arias ever issued.

Blitzstein began as an avant-garde composer; he studied with Boulanger and Schoenberg and was strongly influenced by early Hindemith and Weill operas he heard in Germany in the 1920s. His closest parallel is certainly Kurt Weill, who also went from strict classical training to leftist protest and finally to idealistic operas disguised as Broadway musicals. But, as the Wizard of Oz might have said to Blitzstein: he has one thing you haven't got—a collaborator. Blitzstein was an independent loner who had difficulties working with others. He insisted on writing his own lyrics, but he was no Cole Porter; his lyrics are variable in the extreme. Weill had Brecht and George Gershwin had Ira; that, as much their talent, set them above Blitzstein, who needed a clearer voice to express his thoughts on love and his rage at an unjust society. To make his career more difficult, he was a Marxist, a Jew, and a homosexual in an era when all those things were unacceptable to the American establishment.

For most of his career, Btlizstein wrote message dramas for the stage; he created very few concert songs. On this disc we get several of them, including four set to poems of e. e. cummings. “jimmie's got a goil“ is an early work, from 1929, but the other three were written in 1960; they show that Blitzstein could do with great lyrics, and make us wish all the more that he had found a lyricist he could trust, believe in, and work with. The title song is one of Blitzstein's cleverest, expressing a poor young Jewish boy's ultimate dream of having respectable clothing to wear, to make him look like a real man. Most of the numbers here are from the stage, from shows and operas, produced and not produced: Blitzstein was unlucky as well as difficult throughout his life and was working on three operas at the time of his death in 1964; we get one song each from two of them. Multiple numbers from Cradle, No For an Answer, Regina, Reuben Reuben, and Juno are not presented together, as two or three songs would not give dramatic continuity, but we need to know who is singing what to whom and why, and Steven Blier's superb program notes make all the connections for us, as well as serving as a brief biography for those not willing to explore Gordon's excellent but weighty tome.

The performances are magnificent. I was disappointed in the recent Gershwin disc by Sharp and Blier, but their talents fit Blitzstein's music much better, for it demands musicianship rather than showmanship. Baritone Sharp sings fifteen of the twenty-one numbers; he has an honesty of voice and a sincerity of delivery perfect for Blitzstein's usually direct messages, as well as a marvelous voice and a smooth vocal technique, and he is delightful when playing the character role of a street hustler in “Penny Candy.“ Karen Holvik is another operatically trained singer who is having success on both operatic and musical stages; she has only three solos here, plus three duets with Sharp, but her first solo, “I Wish It So“ from Juno, is a highlight of the disc. Pianist Blier is a superb accompanist who has been devoted to Blitzstein's music for years, as has Sharp. The piano contribution expresses all that the orchestra for some arias could do; this has been a Blitzstein tradition since Cradle's 1937 opening night, when Blitzstein at the piano substituted for the orchestra in order to perform a work forbidden by the establishment.

Production values are outstanding: the recording is crystal-clear, so the lack of texts doesn't matter; to an American, every word is immediately intelligible. Every number is a highlight here, and Marc Blitzstein comes back to life for us as we listen; no disc could do more.

-- James H. North, FANFARE [7/1991] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
The Airborne Symphony: Emily "Ballad of the Bombadier" by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943-1946; USA 
Language: English 
2.
From Marion's Book: O by the way by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960 
Language: English 
3.
From Marion's Book: Until and I heard by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960 
Language: English 
4.
Open your heart by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Language: English 
5.
Jimmie's Got a Goil by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935 
Language: English 
6.
Stay in my arms by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Karen Holvik (Soprano), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935 
Language: English 
7.
This in the Garden: In twos by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Karen Holvik (Soprano), Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957 
Language: English 
8.
Zipperfly by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945 
Language: English 
9.
The Cradle Will Rock: The cradle will rock by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Karen Holvik (Soprano), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937 
Language: English 
10.
The Cradle Will Rock: Croon spoon by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Karen Holvik (Soprano), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937 
Language: English 
11.
The Cradle Will Rock: Nickel under the foot by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), Karen Holvik (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937 
Language: English 
12.
Goloopchik: Displaced by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945 
Language: English 
13.
Juno: Bird on a Tree by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Karen Holvik (Soprano), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957-1959; USA 
Language: English 
14.
Juno: I wish it so by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Steven Blier (Piano), Karen Holvik (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957-1959; USA 
Language: English 
15.
Magic Barrel: Then by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963 
Language: English 
16.
No For an Answer: In the clear by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1940; USA 
Language: English 
17.
No For an Answer: Penny candy by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1940; USA 
Language: English 
18.
Regina: Blues by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  Steven Blier (Piano), William Sharp (Baritone), Karen Holvik (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946-1949 
Language: English 
19.
Regina: What Will it Be for Me? by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Karen Holvik (Soprano), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946-1949 
Language: English 
20.
Reuben Reuben: Monday Morning Blues by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950-1955 
Language: English 
21.
Reuben Reuben: Rose Song by Marc Blitzstein
Performer:  William Sharp (Baritone), Steven Blier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950-1955 
Language: English 

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