(P/V/G Composer Collection). Settings of 17 poems by Langston Hughes. Contents: Angel Wings * Daybreak in Alabama * Delinquent * Demand * Dream * Dream Variations * Drum * Harlem Night Song * In Time of Silver Rain * Late Last Night * Litany Luck * Night: Four Songs * Port Town * Song for a Dark Girl * Stars * When Sue Wears Red.
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Only Heaven: Medium High Voice based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MUSIC REVIEW | RICKY IAN GORDON Composer's Happy Leap Into the Beauty of Poetry By STEPHEN HOLDEN Sex, longing and loss: Those are the words the composer Ricky Ian Gordon chose to describe the underlying themes of his music in an interview with the playwright Richard Nelson on Sunday evening at the Peter B. Lewis Theater in the Guggenheim Museum. But the composer's self-definition -- which came at the midpoint of a concert of his songs featuring the singers Audra McDonald, Theresa McCarthy, Darius de Haas and Lewis Cleale -- tells only part of the story. Mr. Gordon's settings of Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay and other poets dance freely across the line between a sophisticated post-Sondheim Broadway style and strait-laced art song. He writes extremely singer-friendly music that conveys the happy-sad mood swings of an open-hearted child. As the singers performed more than 20 of Mr. Gordon's songs, the majority arranged by the composer for a 10-member ensemble conducted by Ted Sperling, the music bubbled and cascaded like a mountain brook after a spring rain. Over and over, one had the image of a boy skipping ecstatically through fields and woods on a crisp April morning. Mr. Gordon's love of poetry is evident from the clarity and ease of flow of settings that rarely allow a word to get lost. Whether giving musical voice to Hughes's urban angst or to Parker's cynicism, the composer instinctively looks for the silver lining. He turns despair into sadness and softens bitter into wry. Several of his settings of Hughes's poems are inflected with Jazz Age flavors that suggest the blues, but as played by a jazz band at a Champagne reception on an ocean liner. His setting of Parker's "Red Dress," about a girl's yearning for a symbolic gown and the letdown of finally possessing it, focuses on the starry-eyed girl, not the grown-up cynic. With music added, Marie Howe's portrait of grief, "What the Living Do" (sung by Ms. McCarthy with a touching naturalness), became a lesson on how to live in the moment. The program, which was repeated last night, was astutely cast. Mr. de Haas's bursting enthusiasm elevated "Heaven," a Hughes fantasy of the hereafter, into pure euphoria, while Ms. McDonald, in excellent voice, beautifully balanced the bleakness and hope of two Hughes poems put together: "Poor Girls Ruination" and "The Dream Keeper." Mr. Cleale found the heroic heart of "We Will Always Walk Together," a romantic hymn celebrating a friendship that transcends death, from the show "Dream True." Sex, longing and loss? Yes, you could feel them, but they were undercurrents in a concert whose overriding mood was one of joy.