Journey to the New World

( 7 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
The very early history of the folk music revival in America is peopled to some extent by classical musicians such as Ruth Crawford Seeger (Pete's stepmom) and Suzanne Bloch who acted as midwives, expert collectors of past folk material, sources of repertoire, and even as performers when there was no folk movement as such. Once the folk revival got going, however, the movement necessarily took its own direction, reaching out to the young, with some artists pursuing a distinct political agenda and all getting as far away from "art music" as they could. Although Peter, Paul & Mary have long moved out of the coffee houses and into the concert halls, the estrangement of...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
The very early history of the folk music revival in America is peopled to some extent by classical musicians such as Ruth Crawford Seeger (Pete's stepmom) and Suzanne Bloch who acted as midwives, expert collectors of past folk material, sources of repertoire, and even as performers when there was no folk movement as such. Once the folk revival got going, however, the movement necessarily took its own direction, reaching out to the young, with some artists pursuing a distinct political agenda and all getting as far away from "art music" as they could. Although Peter, Paul & Mary have long moved out of the coffee houses and into the concert halls, the estrangement of American folk music -- as it was practiced in the 1950s and '60s -- and art music has more or less continued since; however, in her Sony Classical disc Journey to the New World, classical guitarist Sharon Isbin brings it all back together in a very beautiful way.

The centerpiece of Journey to the New World is the "Joan Baez Suite, Op. 144," by late composer and critic John Duarte, and it was one of the last things Duarte completed and written specially for Isbin. It is a remarkable suite, which doesn't specifically focus on Baez so much as the musical world she represents, though she did at one time or another sing all of the songs Duarte uses as a springboard for his interpretive restatements of them. Particularly striking is "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" as a slight taste of bitterness creeps in behind Pete Seeger's sad and sweet melody, further interrupted by "Taps"; perhaps a meditation on the idea that, though the song captivated many, its lesson was not learnt. The other long work features Isbin and violinist Mark O'Connor in duo mode on O'Connor's "Strings & Threads Suite," previously heard in its violin and string orchestra garb on O'Connor's Sony release The American Seasons. It is as dazzling and unserious as Duarte's suite is reflective and knowing, and these two works provide both food for thought and the need for sheer enjoyment.

Baez herself joins Isbin on two short cuts; while she shares with Isbin the lot of being regarded as an expert interpretive artist, these performances are heartfelt and personal. Baez is one of those institutions in American music of whom the "institution" part is seldom acknowledged; it is nice to see her receive her due here. Moreover, one would not want to miss out on Andrew York's lovely early composition "Andecy," written by him while "limiting my harmonies in composition to this framework, but striving for strong emotional content within it." Perhaps this helps answer something about the gulf between folk music -- which has fed classical music for centuries -- at least in America, and classical; classical musicians find pure simplicity somewhat limiting, whereas folk musicians don't necessarily care for business that impedes communication and the vaunted historic baggage of the classics. Leave it to an extraordinary musician like Sharon Isbin to tie such disconsolate threads together into something like Sony's Journey to the New World, definitely a keeper and a disc to return to again and again.
All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
When the word "crossover" is used to refer to a classical artist like guitarist Sharon Isbin, it usually indicates an intention by the artist to appeal to a broader audience than the usual one for classical music. Isbin's album Journey to the New World can be described as a crossover effort in this regard, but she seems to have had another sort of crossover in mind in terms of the collection's theme. Musically, the selections depict a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Great Britain to North America. Isbin begins with traditional British music and British folk, performing the works of lute player John Dowland and others upfront. She then makes a transition to American folk music by playing tunes that came across the ocean in centuries past. In this effort, she enlists folksinger Joan Baez, who is heard before and after the seven-part "Joan Baez Suite," first singing a couple of verses of "Wayfaring Stranger," and then, after Isbin has presented her versions of songs like "The House of the Rising Sun" and "The Lily of the West," returning for "Go 'Way from My Window." The third part of the album finds Isbin moving on to the next step in the journey of traditional folk music, i.e., to becoming American country music. The 13-part "Strings & Threads Suite" is a full-scale duet collaboration with country fiddler Mark O'Connor on a variety of brief jigs, reels, and waltzes. The two performers, though coming from different traditions, work together well, effecting a conclusion to the journey to the new world that the album makes musically.
Gramophone - William Yeoman
Spectacular.... Such is the musical sympathy and understanding displayed by all three performers here that, at the risk of condoning both bigamy and the reckless use of clichés, this is a marriage made in heaven.

Spectacular.... Such is the musical sympathy and understanding displayed by all three performers here that, at the risk of condoning both bigamy and the reckless use of clichés, this is a marriage made in heaven.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/24/2009
  • Label: Sony Classics
  • UPC: 886974545620
  • Catalog Number: 745456
  • Sales rank: 30,205

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Sharon Isbin Primary Artist, Guitar
Joan Baez Vocals
Mark O'Connor Violin
Technical Credits
John Jacob Niles Composer
Andrew York Composer
Carlos Barbosa-Lima Arranger
Sharon Isbin Liner Notes, Executive Producer
Timothy Martyn Engineer
Mark O'Connor Composer
David Frost Producer, Mastering
Dann Michael Thompson Engineer
Dann Thompson Engineer
Roxanne Slimak Art Direction
Edward Flower Arranger
Traditional Composer
Silas Brown Mastering
Elizabeth A. Wright Product Development
Meghan Foley Art Direction
Leslie Collman-Smith Marketing
Elizabeth A. Wright Product Development
John Duarte Composer
Anonymous Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Voyage into the Soul of Pure Elegant Artistry

    Have no doubt, this CD confirms that Sharon Isbin is a brilliant artist with a gift to touch the soul. Her latest (2009) CD brings an entirely new dimension of lyrical virtuosity to light. From the remarkable tonal color palette expressed masterfully in the opening 16th century flavored works, to the haunting "Andecy" which evokes a sensuality and beauty beyond words. A brand new recording of "Wayfaring Stranger" begins with Isbin's intro, a cascade of notes sounding like a auditory magical spring rain, leading to Joan Baez's unearthly vocals. This poetic collaboration is absolutely heavenly. The Baez Suite that follows is masterful. The concluding Mark O'Connor Strings and Threads Suite shows how truly alive and modern the classical guitar can be when its voice sings under Isbin's fingers. This is a CD that is a must in your collection and active on your portable player du jour! There is only smooth sailing and something special at every stop along the way on this "Journey to the New World". Might be her best work to date...

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews