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Subject: Re: Barber/Vanessa/American Music
From: David Danoff <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Danoff <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 30 Nov 2004 13:26:12 -0500
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I'll take this opportunity to mention something I've been listening to and
enjoying very much for the last several weeks: the new recording (on Naxos)
of William Bolcom's "Songs of Innocence and of Experience". The recording
is based on live performances in Michigan last spring.

The cast is huge and varied, and so is the music. Solo vocal writing for
tenor that reminds me of Britten, percussion and kaleidescopic choral
outbursts like something out of Messiaen or Stravinsky ("The Tyger"), and
bluesy harmonica music, and a sinister rock-and-roll setting of "London",
and soft choral lullabies, and a rather frightening reggae (!) setting of
the final song, "A Divine Image". And a whole lot more.

The eclecticism works well to match Blake's, and to hammer home something
of the theme of universality.

Anyway, it's a fascinating, impressive, and (I'm finding) damned catchy
piece of music, with subtle patterns, parallels, and motivic development
over the course of the structure from Innocence to Experience (I feel like
I'm only beginning to understand much of what's going on), and the
performances are uniformly fine.

Recommended to anyone interested in American music or settings of English
poetry.


David Danoff

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