Bolcom: Songs

Bolcom: Songs

by Carole Farley
     
 

It's been a good year for William Bolcom, with a recording of his massive (and massively impressive) Songs of Innocence and Experience finally arriving and his new opera, A Wedding, getting raves at its Chicago premiere. Now this survey of his songs, many recorded here for the first time, provides another tribute to the skill and versatility of his vocalSee more details below

Overview

It's been a good year for William Bolcom, with a recording of his massive (and massively impressive) Songs of Innocence and Experience finally arriving and his new opera, A Wedding, getting raves at its Chicago premiere. Now this survey of his songs, many recorded here for the first time, provides another tribute to the skill and versatility of his vocal writing. As always with Bolcom, variety is the key; spanning four decades of his career, the songs range from Broadway pastiche to modernist art song, and he seems equally at home in all of these styles. Bolcom also lends his authority to the recording by appearing at the piano, accompanying soprano Carole Farley. She's the kind of singer whom composers love; even if her voice is no longer at its freshest, she always penetrates to the heart of each song's character and brings the words out with clarity -- and she's not afraid to scream, whisper, or shout if the song demands it. She's probably one of the few singers, too, who could convincingly tackle both the cabaret-style songs written for Bolcom's wife, Joan Morris, and those composed for opera diva Marilyn Horne. Traveling from the comic vulgarity of "You Cannot Have Me Now -- or, The Military Orgy" to the lyrical expressiveness of the song cycle I Will Breathe a Mountain, the listener can't help but marvel at the breadth of Bolcom's achievements. Whether as an introduction to one of America's finest living composers or as a companion piece to Songs of Innocence and Experience, this recital is a distinguished contribution to the Bolcom legacy on disc.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Admired as a versatile master of large forms such as operas, concertos, and symphonies, William Bolcom is more widely appreciated for his engaging performances and for his numerous songs and song cycles, composed over four decades. Bolcom's fascination with poetry of all stripes -- from William Blake's mystical visions to the wry lyrics of Arnold Weinstein -- has led him to compose highly varied entertainments, incorporating popular, classical, and modernist elements in a hybrid cabaret style that almost always works to the texts' advantage. Soprano Carole Farley has selected an assortment of lively songs, chiefly from the Bolcom/Weinstein collaborations "Greatshot," "Dynamite Tonite," "Casino Paradise"; the independent cycles, "Songs to Dance," and "I Will Breathe a Mountain"; and small sets, such as the "Tillinghast Duo" and "Three Songs from The Wind in the Willows." Farley is quite ebullient and brassy, and these attitudes usually work in the witty numbers, but her interpretations of the quieter songs suffer from a lack of subtlety and sweetness; what may sound effective on stage comes across on CD as somewhat overblown and harsh. However, Bolcom's playing is both precise and fluid, and possibly the most sensitive and responsive accompaniment any singer could want. Naxos provides good reproduction, though the venue sounds a little drafty and over-resonant.
New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
In his songs [Bolcom] almost always balances the contemporary classical and popular elements deftly, as this splendid recording of 34 songs spanning 40 years amply demonstrates.
Gramophone - Peter Dickinson
Overall this is a fascinating collection from one of the most individual American composers around who should mot be forgotten in the minimalist onslaught.... Vividly recorded and...delivered with effervescent enthusiasm by both performers.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/21/2005
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943924921
catalogNumber:
8559249
Rank:
305550

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Greatshot, theatre piece: You Cannot Have Me Now - or, The Military Orgy  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Andrew Weinstein
  2. Casino Paradise, theater piece: Night, Make My Day  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Arnold Weinstein
  3. The Digital Wonder Watch (An Advertisement)  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - May Swenson
  4. Casino Paradise, theater piece: My Father the Gangster  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Arnold Weinstein
  5. The Last Days of Mankind  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Frank McGuinness
  6. Songs to Dance (10)  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - George Montgomery
  7. I Will Breathe a Mountain, song cycle for mezzo-soprano (voice) & piano  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Elizabeth Bishop  - Louise Bogan  - Gwendolyn Brooks  - Emily Dickinson  - Carole Farley  - Denise Levertov  - Marianne Moore  - May Swenson  - Hilda Doolittle  - Alice Fulton  - Edna St. Vincent Millay  - Anne Sexton
  8. Tillinghast Duo, for voice & piano  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Richard Tillinghast  - Richard Tillinghast
  9. Mary, for voice & piano  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - William Blake  - Carole Farley
  10. Songs (3) from The Wind in the Willows, for voice & piano  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Arnold Weinstein
  11. Dynamite Tonite, theater piece: When We Built The Church  - William Bolcom  - William Bolcom  - Carole Farley  - Arnold Weinstein

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