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Songs from the Exotic
     

Songs from the Exotic

by Polly May
 
This little disc from Scotland pairs two young performers: mezzo-soprano Polly May and piano accompanist Lucy Walker. It has the flavor of recitals that students mount in order to push the boundaries a little, not least because the acoustics of the album have a spacious recital-hall feel that's a little indistinct. The notes are prefaced

Overview

This little disc from Scotland pairs two young performers: mezzo-soprano Polly May and piano accompanist Lucy Walker. It has the flavor of recitals that students mount in order to push the boundaries a little, not least because the acoustics of the album have a spacious recital-hall feel that's a little indistinct. The notes are prefaced by a meaningless quote from Teilhard de Chardin, and they're rather short on actual information about the music. Songs from the Exotic may be the first album ever to contain works by both Spanish conservative Joaquín Rodrigo (the "Madrigales amatorios") and Italian innovator Luciano Berio (the "Quattro canzoni popolari"). With the title "Songs from the Exotic" by contemporary British composer Judith Weir and Falla's "Siete canciones populares españolas" also on hand, the collection of music qualifies as quite unusual except in the case of the Falla. The program doesn't quite make a coherent statement about the uses of folk and popular song in the twentieth century, but it does present four diverse takes on the old nationalist idea. Falla, like Bartók, set himself the task of boiling essential elements of folk songs down to a point where they could serve as building blocks in a distinctive modern style. Weir (whose songs are Serbian [twice, but sung in English], Scots Gaelic [sung in English], and Spanish) is interested in the textures and timbres characteristic of songs from different traditions, and in the ways these parameters intersect with unusual textual gestures. Rodrigo's four little-known madrigals are simple modal settings of actual folk tunes, and Berio's little Italian songs are predecessors to his better-known set of "Folk Songs" from various countries; these early works are closer to Stravinsky's rethinking of Russian folk song, setting a melodic vocal line against repetitive, intervallically consistent accompanimental figures, than to Berio's own later treatments of folk song, which had the effect of placing song traditions from around the world in a kind of collage. Does all this hold together completely? No. But May makes the program her own, donning just the right amount of national vocal style without seeming mannered about it. An offbeat choice that could make a productive gift for a voice student.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/27/2005
Label:
Delphian
UPC:
0801918340024
catalogNumber:
34002
Rank:
280233

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Popular Spanish Songs (7), for voice & piano, G. 40
  2. Songs from the Exotic, for soprano & piano
  3. Madrigales (4) amatorios, for voice & piano (or soprano & orchestra)
  4. Popular Songs (4), for female voice & piano

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Polly May   Primary Artist

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