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Intersection: Jazz Meets Classical Song

Harsanyi / Poulenc / Altman / Kapustin
Release Date: 08/12/2014 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 149   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Tibor HarsanyiFrancis PoulencLaurie AltmanNikolai Kapustin,   ... 
Performer:  Kuang-Hao HuangPatrice MichaelsZach BrochNicholas Photinos,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

INTERSECTION: Jazz Meets Classical Song Patrice Michaels (sop); Kuang-Hao Huang, Patrice Michaels (pn); Zack Brock (vn); Nick Photinos (vc); Dedé Sampaio (perc) CEDILLE 90000 149 (2 CDs: 101:00)

Music by ALTMAN, BAUER, BEEUWSAERT, ELLINGTON, GERSHWIN, HARSANYI, HOIBY, ISRAELS, KAPUSTIN, N. LINDBERG, MICHAELS, MUSTO, POULENC, STRAYHORN

This new release by soprano Patrice Michaels on Cedille records is one of the most original, innovative, and adventurous recordings to come along in quite some time! Not Read more only is the concept fascinating—the intersection of jazz and classical music in contemporary song—but Michaels programs this mix of new takes on old tunes and never-before-recorded or newly commissioned works with intelligence, passion, and wit. Each track contains a delightful surprise, a revelatory audio experience, and all are sung in Michaels’s warm, rich lyric soprano and shaped with her patrician musicianship, her consummate interpretive intelligence, and her considerable mastery of improvisation and other jazz techniques.


The musicians who partner Michaels are all equally at home in both the classical and jazz idioms, all of them able to improvise, as well as functioning as an ideal chamber ensemble. Kuang-Hao Hung is a sensitive pianist who is adept at both the lyrical and syncopated moments of the music. Michaels, herself, also proves herself to be an accomplished pianist on two tracks ( Shall I Compare Thee and Sonora ). Zach Brock on violin shines in pieces like a jazzy take on Poulenc’s Violon , and Nick Photinos’s cello sings with an earthy emotion-rich tone. Pianist Kuang-Hao Huang dances dazzlingly through the intricacies of Russian composer, Kapustin’s four preludes.


The disc contains several notable world premieres, including works commissioned by Michaels specifically for this project. Among these are Gig Songs , a set of inventive takes on tunes by one of Michaels’s favorite contemporary composers, Laurie Altman, as well as Altman’s reimaginings of two 18th-century Italian songs, Randy Bauer’s four-song Neighborhood Music set to Michaels’s own texts, and Michael’s own Anita’s Story . Not only do these first hearings impress with their vitality and freshness, but they also add to the prismatic variety of the other compositions on the disc.


The recital is a veritable treasure trove of riches, so it is difficult to choose highlights, but here are a few personal favorites. There is Michaels’s rendition of Duke Ellington’s Paris Blues , which she sings with a dark, torchy sound and long, elegant phrasing, then adding a sultry, idiomatic reading of a 15th-century French poem over Huang’s melancholy blues piano. Or there is the never-before-recorded 1917 vocalise by Hungarian composer Tibor Harsányi, who was part of the Paris 1920s scene, in which Michaels uses her bell-like timbre to turn the wordless exercise into a riff of wild and pure abandon. Then there are Chuck Israels’s piano and voice settings of American folk ballads, among them Frankie and Johnny which Michaels dramatizes by singing all the characters with true cabaret flair. A favorite composer of the soprano, John Musto is represented by the Bolcolm-like Penelope’s Lament , which Michaels charmingly articulates as a mini-drama, beginning with a classical elegiac lament and segueing into an irreverent jazz finish. Randy Bauer’s Neighborhood Music call for the soprano to demonstrate her range from the darkly inflected “Hear the Train Again” to the witty declamation, dissonance, and jarring feline sound effects combined with florid line in “Rossini’s Got Nothin’ on Us.” Another long-time collaborator, composer Laurie Altman, contributes Gig Songs , where well-known tunes like Come Rain or Come Shine get a fresh twist as the cello turns percussive, the violin dissonant, and the soprano spins the line which begins reminiscent of Stephen Collins Foster and migrates to a 1940s sound. Lastly, there are some stunning lyrical moments to cherish in Lee Hoiby’s limpid Insomnia , with its almost Impressionistic piano part and its operatic finish on “And you love me”, or in the beautifully ornamented Gershwin melody Liza , or Michaels’s disarming simplicity in Nils Lindberg’s Shakespeare setting, Shall I Compare Thee? And I would be remiss if I did not mention Michaels’s own composition Anita’s Story , which constitutes the beginnings of a song cycle she is writing on texts about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This little gem is a pert and touching monologue from a Hispanic secretary typing the Justice’s early law opinions; it uses text in both English and Spanish over a piano obbligato that provides the propulsive thrust of the song and the singer’s grappling with concepts of feminism and discrimination.


The songs are organized into sets, with the Kapustin preludes as dividing interludes. The sound on the CDs has both presence and intimacy. It feels as if one is listening in a parlor or a club, all of which adds to the immediate impact. The liner notes by Grammy award-winning jazz expert Neil Tesser are a substantive addition.


This Cedille release is first rate all the way: beautiful singing, stunning instrumentals, and a coherent and classy program. It is a recording to play and play again! Most highly recommended!

FANFARE: Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold
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Works on This Recording

1.
Blues by Tibor Harsanyi
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
2.
Fiançailles pour rire: no 5, Violon by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
3.
Per la gloria d'adorarvi "A Re-imagining" (after G. Bononcini) by Laurie Altman
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
4.
Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile "A Re-imagining" (after F. Durante) by Laurie Altman
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
5.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 53 "in Jazz Style": no 18 by Nikolai Kapustin
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USSR 
6.
Show Girl: Liza "All the clouds'll roll away" by George Gershwin
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; USA 
7.
Paris Blues: Paris Blues by Edward "Duke" Ellington
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
8.
Strayhorn Suite by Peter LaBella
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
9.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 53 "in Jazz Style": no 23 by Nikolai Kapustin
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USSR 
10.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 53 "in Jazz Style": no 19 by Nikolai Kapustin
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USSR 
11.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 53 "in Jazz Style": no 4 by Nikolai Kapustin
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USSR 
12.
Three Women: no 3, Insomnia by Lee Hoiby
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990 
13.
Penelope's Lament by John Musto
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
14.
Anita's Story by Patrice Michaels
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
15.
Neighborhood Music by Randy Bauer
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
16.
As you Are by Nils Lindberg
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
17.
O Mistress Mine: Shall I compare thee by Nils Lindberg
Performer:  Nicholas Photinos (Cello), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Patrice Michaels (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; Sweden 
18.
He's Gone Away by Chuck Israels
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
19.
Balm in Gilead by Chuck Israels
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
20.
Frankie and Johnny by Chuck Israels
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
21.
Gig Songs by Laurie Altman
Performer:  Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello)
22.
Sonora by Andres Beeuwsaert
Performer:  Nicholas Photinos (Cello), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Zach Broch (Violin),
Patrice Michaels (Piano)
23.
Lamento no Morro by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Performer:  Zach Broch (Violin), Patrice Michaels (Soprano), Kuang-Hao Huang (Piano),
Nicholas Photinos (Cello), Dede Sampaio (Percussion)

Sound Samples

Vocalise-etude, "Blues"
Fiancailles pour rire, FP 101: No. 5. Violon
Per la gloria d'adorarvi, "A Re-imagining" (after G. Bononcini)
Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile, "A Re-imagining" (after F. Durante)
24 Preludes, Op. 53: Prelude No. 18 in F Minor
Show Girl: Liza
Paris Blues
Strayhorn Suite: No. 1. Chelsea Bridge
Strayhorn Suite: No. 2. A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing
24 Preludes, Op. 53: Prelude No. 4 in E Minor
3 Ages of Woman: No. 3. Insomia
Penelope: 's Song
Anita's Story
Neighborhood Music: No. 1. Where has he Gone
Neighborhood Music: No. 2. Rossini's Cat Duet's Got Nothin' on Us
Neighborhood Music: No. 3. The Local Record Producer
Neighborhood Music: No. 4. When I could Hear the Train Again
24 Preludes, Op. 53: Prelude No. 23 in F Major
As You Are
O, Mistress Mine: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day
He's Gone Away
Balm in Gilead
Frankie and Johnny
24 Preludes, Op. 53: Prelude No. 19 in E-Flat Major
Gig Songs: No. 1. I Didn't Know / Where or When
Gig Songs: No. 2. Always
Gig Songs: No. 3. While We're Young
Gig Songs: No. 4. Come Rain or Come Shine
Sonora
Lamento no Morro

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