Classic American Love Songs

Classic American Love Songs

by Carole Farley


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Classic American Love Songs

This album by operatic soprano Carole Farley is somewhat mistitled; few of the songs are in the first rank of pop standards, and indeed the album's most noteworthy feature is that it includes four world premieres of songs by Kurt Weill, uncovered by Farley herself. To take the obvious first question first, this collection is worth purchasing for the new Weill songs alone. None is less than intriguing. Weill's control, in the brief "The Romance of a Lifetime," of the universe of possibility contained in a flirtatious glance on the street is exquisite. And "The River Is So Blue," written for the 1937 film of the same name, is a nifty small-scale example of Weill's attraction to literary texts. The words by Ann Ronell take the slightest of romantic topics -- a pleasant boat ride with a sweetheart on a lagoon -- and just slightly elevate the language beyond moon/June territory: "Oh Love, the river is so blue today -- it calls for us to live." Weill responds with a melody that can only be called ravishingly beautiful. Farley delivers this unusual item gorgeously. Among her previous outings in a semi-popular vein have been the cabaret songs of William Bolcom, and she sings this Broadway material similarly, with a slight, rather twittery voice designed for the recital stage rather than for the microphone. She does the melodic pieces justice, articulates the words clearly (for once, when Naxos rather resentfully includes the texts in the booklet, they aren't really needed), and is involved in what she's singing. But in pieces that call for a switch into a gutsier blues or jazz lower register, such as most of the Gershwin songs and Harold Arlen's sublimely angry "I Had Myself a True Love," she doesn't quite make the transition. Her blues sounds forced, and not for the usual reasons that bedevil operatic artists who take on this repertoire: she is relaxed even in George Gershwin's most complex rhythmic arabesques around Ira's tortured rhymes (Heine/China, and even sour/Schopenhauer). The sound is another negative, suffering from overall harshness and specifically from a tendency to turn Farley's S sounds into messy hisses. Any specific complaints the listener may have, however, are outweighed by the contribution this album makes to the American popular song repertoire in the form of the four new Weill songs. They are in that repertoire to stay.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/26/2007
Label: Naxos American
UPC: 0636943931424
catalogNumber: 8559314
Rank: 215741


  1. Casbah, film score: What's Good About Goodbye?
  2. One Touch of Venus, musical play: Love In A Mist
  3. Revenge with Music, musical: You And The Night And The Music
  4. Last Night When We Were Young
  5. You and Me, film score (partly lost): The Romance Of A Lifetime
  6. Poppyland, song (from revue The Morris Gest Midnight Whirl)
  7. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Unforgettable
  8. The Band Wagon, musical: Dancing In The Dark
  9. Isn't It A Pity?, song (from Pardon My English, musical)
  10. When the sun comes out
  11. Of Thee I Sing, musical: Love Is Sweeping The Country
  12. Casbah, film score: It Was Written In The Stars
  13. Girl Crazy, musical: Boy! Look What Love Has Done To Me!
  14. Bloomer Girl, musical play: Right As The Rain
  15. St. Louis Woman, musical play: I Had Myself A True Love
  16. Between The Devil, musical play: I See Your Face Before Me
  17. The River is Blue, film score (aka "Castles in Spain")
  18. Something to remember you by
  19. Life Begins at 8:40, musical: Fun to Be Fooled
  20. The Picture on the Wall, song (for film version of "One Touch of Venus")
  21. Rosalie, musical: How Long Has This Been Going On?
  22. Soon, song (from Strike Up the Band, musical)

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