Notes and Editorial Reviews
One of the very first discs I ever reviewed for
was of music by Louis Karchin, which I liked very much. This disc of vocal music is rather more of a mixed bag, due in part to performance issues I will get to in a moment, but again he shows himself to be a particularly fine composer. This is, in effect, two separate recitals that have been interleaved on the disc: baritone Dominic Inferrera accompanied by the composer, either conducting or at the piano, and soprano Elizabeth Farnum accompanied by Stephen Gosling. In my earlier review, I suggested that Karchin had a lot in common with the ?tonal? serial composer Argento and, to a lesser extent, Berg. This is still true and there has been no decrease in his acute ear for instrumental sonority. The major work is the masque,
, for baritone, chamber orchestra, and dancers, setting the poem,
In the Dark House,
by Stanley Kunitz. The masque tells the story of Eurydice?s flight from the unwelcome attentions of Aristeaus through the journey to and from Hades to Orpheus?s eventual death at the hands of the Thracian women and the reunion of the couple in death. The music, by turns anguished and mysterious, is quite remarkable, making one long to see as well as hear it.
Karchin?s music is not easy to sing and baritone Inferrera does a much better job of it than Ms. Farnum. He captures the wide range of expression Karchin demands of his singers, not least in the extended
The soprano seems to have been caught on a bad day?given how well I have heard her sing in other music. This is a pity, since the bulk of the piano-accompanied songs she sings are all quite beautiful (the exception is
Carmén de Boheme
, which eludes me completely in its heavy handed, un-amusing humor). Karchin?s text setting is not especially ?natural? to the rise and fall of English, and the printed texts are pretty much a necessity throughout. If you can get around the soprano?s occasionally strident singing (her performances make up just under half the playing time), this is a fine recital of interesting music very much worth hearing. The recorded sound is excellent. Texts, translations where needed, and informative notes by the composer are included.
FANFARE: John Story