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Del Tredici: Vintage Alice, Syzygy, Etc / L. Shelton


Release Date: 01/13/2004 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 447753   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  David Del Tredici
Performer:  Jan HarshagenPeppie WiersmaWim VosLucy Shelton,   ... 
Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 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

This is something of a scandal. Not for the music–which covers David Del Tredici's career from his early days as possibly the lushest serial composer through his rediscovery of tonality and pastiche in the remarkable series of works based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice" books. Nor for the performances–which are consistently wonderful, in particular the work of the distinguished soprano. No: what the scandal consists of is that this marvelous music in these amazing performances has languished in the can since 1993 and 1994 for the two works with ensemble and since 1997 for the piano-accompanied songs. No matter, since–as they say–better late than never, and this is a must-have for anyone interested in Del Tredici's work.
Read more /> For much of his career, David Del Tredici (b. 1931 ) has concentrated on vocal composition centering first around the words of James Joyce and later the writings of Lewis Carroll. Both writers have a highly developed sense of humor and whimsy along with an extravagance of means and gesture, something that has always characterized Del Tredici's music, regardless of the specific techniques he has used to construct it. From the beginning of his career come the two sets of songs with piano. The six songs, which could be considered a single set, date from 1958 to 1960. Serial in construction, they present a remarkably lush version of a presumably fairly austere idiom. Del Tredici first trained as a concert pianist, and in his rare music involving the instrument an extravagance worthy of an atonal Rachmaninoff permeates the music. Syzygy dates from 1966, on the eve of the "Alice" works. Here Del Tredici sets two poems by Joyce for soprano and horn with a chamber ensemble of 16 players. The two unequal settings run about 25 minutes in performance. Here, the vast resources of color that have made the later "Alice" works so popular with audiences are deployed to a somewhat different end, while the soloist performs feats of astounding virtuosity. The sheer security and élan of this live performance from 1993 is remarkable.

Vintage Alice for soprano, folk ensemble, and orchestra dates from 1972, comparatively early in the long series of "Alice" works that cumulated in the as-yet-unproduced opera Dum Dee Tweedle of 1999. Vintage Alice (the title is a tribute to the commission from the Paul Masson Winery) is the setting of the mad tea party. "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "God Save the Queen," and other Victorian tunes permeate the music as Alice deals with the insanity of the tea party, where the participants move irregularly around the table in search of a clean cup. Of course, the way the party moves only the Hatter ever gets a clean cup and Alice is quite put out about this. The music is marvelous. Funny, extravagant, and virtuoso in the extreme, it captures the whimsy of Carroll's text and–in the undercurrent of things–gives voice as to why the Hatter is mad in the first place (the process of felting hats in Victorian times involved the use of mercury, which eventually produced heavy-metal poisoning, causing insanity and death). The performance from 1994 is terrific. Shelton is beyond praise in both her vocal gymnastics and her ability to characterize the text's different voices of narrator, Hatter, and Alice herself.

The recordings, whether live or studio, are exquisite. The only possible blot is the failure to include the texts of Joyce's poems, but they are easily obtained in the Portable James Joyce, which includes all the author's poetry. Urgently recommended.

-- John Story, Fanfare [7/2004]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Syzygy by David Del Tredici
Performer:  Jan Harshagen (French Horn), Peppie Wiersma (Tubular Bells), Wim Vos (Tubular Bells),
Lucy Shelton (Soprano)
Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/1993 
Venue:  Live  Vredenberg Center, Utrecht, Netherlands 
Length: 24 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
Songs (4) on texts by James Joyce by David Del Tredici
Performer:  Lucy Shelton (Soprano), David Del Tredici (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958-1960; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/1997 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts & Letters, NYC 
Length: 11 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Songs (2) on texts by James Joyce by David Del Tredici
Performer:  David Del Tredici (Piano), Lucy Shelton (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959/1978; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/1997 
Venue:  American Academy of Arts & Letters, NYC 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
Vintage Alice by David Del Tredici
Performer:  Mini Dekkers (Accordion), Helenus De Rijke (Banjo), Michiel Van Dijk (Saxophone),
Hans Wesseling (Mandolin), Leo Van Oostrem (Saxophone), Lucy Shelton (Soprano)
Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ASKO Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/1994 
Venue:  Live  Vredenberg Center, Utrecht, Netherlands 
Length: 26 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

Syzygy for soprano, horn, chimes and chamber ensemble (1968): Ecce puer
Syzygy for soprano, horn, chimes and chamber ensemble (1968): Night piece
Four Songs on Poems by James Joyce: 1. Dove Song
Four Songs on Poems by James Joyce: 2. She Weeps Over Rahoon
Four Songs on Poems by James Joyce: 3. A Flower Given To My Daughter
Four Songs on Poems by James Joyce: 4. Monotone
Two Songs on Poems by James Joyce: 1. Bahnhofstrasse
Two Songs on Poems by James Joyce: 2. Alone
Vintage Alice: 1. Introduction / First Evocation of the Queen
Vintage Alice: 2. Cadenza
Vintage Alice: 3. The Mad Hatter's Song: Verse I / The Star: Verses I and II
Vintage Alice: 4. Second Evocation of the Queen
Vintage Alice: 5. Cadenza
Vintage Alice: 6. The Mad Hatter's Song: Verse II
Vintage Alice: 7. Interlude
Vintage Alice: 8. Changing Places
Vintage Alice: 9. Cadenza III
Vintage Alice: 10. Quodlibet - Return
Vintage Alice: 11. Hymn to the Queen
Vintage Alice: 12. Sleeping - Coda

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