Lazy Andy Ant - Music Of Stefan Wolpe Vol 5 / Loeb, Boehler

Release Date: 11/10/2009
Label: Bridge
Catalog Number: BCD9308
Composer: Stefan Wolpe
Orchestra/Ensemble: Quattro Mani
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

In Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews

WOLPE Lazy Andy Ant. 1 Suite for Marthe Krueger. 2 The Angel 3. 2 Songs for Baritone 4. O Captain! 4 Songs of the Jewish Pioneers. 3 To a Theatre New 4 1 Patrick Mason (nar); 1 Zac Garcia ( Andy ); 1 Wendy Buzby ( The Judge ); 1 Mathew Whitmore ( Anteater ); 1,2 Quattro Mani (pns); 3 Rebecca Jo Loeb (mez); 4 Matt Boehler (b bar); 3,4 Ursula Oppens (pn) BRIDGE 9308 (58:07 Text and Translation)

In my formative years, I used to think of Wolpe as a difficult composer. Was it because, living in Chicago at a time when his pupil Ralph Shapey was the dominant figure on the contemporary-music scene, I was encouraged to think of Wolpe as the source of Shapey’s own gnarly style? Was it, more generally, because, at late midcentury, he was performed primarily by such champions of the avant-garde as Arthur Weisberg, Charles Wuorinen, and David Tudor, musicians who favored his more rugged and abstract music? Was it because of his association with the abstract expressionist painters? Was it because, in the wake of McCarthy and HUAC, Wolpe’s left-populist side tended to remain in the shadows? In any case, my very limited sense of Wolpe’s style was hardly idiosyncratic. As is obvious if you go back and read descriptions of his music in such popular venues as Gramophone or the New York Times or in the program notes accompanying his recordings, terms like “tough” and “severe” were once the norm for summing up his idiom.

Nowadays—in part because of Bridge’s enterprising Wolpe series, of which this is the fifth volume—we know better: Wolpe was a protean composer who had as much in common with Weill (whose spirit hovers over the march-like passages in O Captain! , a text Weill himself had set a few years earlier) as he did with Webern, who took as freely from jazz and folk music as he did from the European high modernists, whose music could be witty as well as earnest. This collection gives a good sense of his range. On the one hand, we have the recently rediscovered 1940 ballet score Suite for Marthe Krueger . It’s nowhere near as imposing and eruptive as Wolpe’s most famous work, Battle Piece , but in its jagged gestures, its often harsh counterpoint, and its willingness to push on ahead through thorny dissonances, it’s certainly in the same camp. On the other hand, we have Lazy Andy Ant , Wolpe’s contribution to the children’s-story-with-music genre dominated by Peter and the Wolf . Helen Fletcher’s text, about a scorned and exiled artist who saves the community, is marginally edgier than Prokofiev’s, but Wolpe’s score (which, like Prokofiev’s, culminates in a triumphal march) is simpler, with allusions to musical theater and smatterings of Coplandesque populism. To add to the eclectic spirit, we have the nine songs, which range from a surprisingly angry German setting of Whitman ( An Dich ) and an increasingly agitated setting of Blake’s The Angel to the fairly transparent and gently tinted settings of the first three Songs of the Jewish Pioneers , recastings of tunes originally composed by Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the 1930s.

In sum, a kaleidoscopic collection. The performers are a varied lot, too, ranging from veteran Ursula Oppens to Zac Garcia (still in high school when he made this recording), but they all make a convincing case for this music. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
Works on This Recording
1. Lazy Andy Ant by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Mathew Whitmore (Voice), Zac Garcia (Voice), Wendy Buzby (Voice), Patrick Mason (Narrator), Alice Rybak (Piano), Susan Grace (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1947 ; USA
2. Suite for Marthe Krueger by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Rebecca Jo Loeb (Mezzo Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Quattro Mani
3. The Angel by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Rebecca Jo Loeb (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1959 ; USA
4. Songs for Baritone (2) by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Rebecca Jo Loeb (Mezzo Soprano)
5. O Captain by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Matt Boehler (Bass Baritone)
6. Songs of the Jewish Pioneers by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Rebecca Jo Loeb (Mezzo Soprano)
7. To a Theatre New by Stefan Wolpe
Performer: Ursula Oppens (Piano), Matt Boehler (Bass Baritone)
Customer Reviews