Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Samuel Barber, John  Harbison, Gian Carlo Menotti|
Knoxville Summer of 1915
Genres: Pop, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is a setting of a lovely chunk of prose text by James Agee describing an evening from his childhood. An accomplished singer himself, Barber's vocal writing is expert, and this work must r... more »
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Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is a setting of a lovely chunk of prose text by James Agee describing an evening from his childhood. An accomplished singer himself, Barber's vocal writing is expert, and this work must rank as one of the finest examples of the art of word-setting in any language. Barber perfectly captures the conversational quality of the text, while at the same time clothing the words in an atmosphere of gentle nostalgia. It's a masterpiece that Dawn Upshaw sings with keen insight and lovely tone. The remainder of the program is creatively chosen as well, making this one of the finest vocal recitals available by an American singer. --David Hurwitz
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Dawn Upshaw, vocal actress extraordinaire
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the CD that made me fall in love with Dawn Upshaw's singing. I had heard her before and admired her work, but this disc made me a real fan. As it's one of her early recordings, her voice is somewhat "fuller" than on later work; she later started moving the voice "forward," simplifying the sound. Either way, her immense talent for communicating the essence of the text is the outstanding aspect of all her work. It's amazing how she can sound angry, desperate, hopeful, melancholic, all while producing a beautiful sound and tackling all the vocal challenges of the music she's singing. She inhabits the characters, the narrators, of each of the pieces on this disc, and makes it more than just a collection of songs or arias.I want to make special mention of the Harbison _Mirabai Songs_, as it seems to have been maligned somewhat in other reviews here. This was the work that most kept me coming back to this disc when I first bought it. I think it is a masterpiece, and one of Harbison's best and most important works. (Apparently I'm not alone in my admiration of the piece, because I've heard it on a number of live concerts in recent years, so it seems to be having a successful performance life.) Harbison's song cycle is by turns exciting, sensual, driving, longing, beautiful. The orchestration for the small ensemble is masterful (as Harbison's efforts at scoring always are), and Upshaw expresses all of Mirabai's complex emotions enchantingly.The _Rake's Progress_ aria also deserves individual comment. In this engrossing example of Stravinsky's neoclassical style, Upshaw assumes Anne's air of fierce determination, and brings the disc to an absolutely thrilling climax on a concluding high C.All of the music on this terrific CD is very accessible, and the performances are stellar. The recorded sound is very clear and immediate, as one would expect from Nonesuch. It's one of my favorite discs in my entire collection, and would probably be so for the Harbison and Stravinsky alone."
This is how vocal music should sound.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dawn Upshaw has a beautiful, natural voice and superb phrasing and diction. I've heard everything on this album sung by other performers (like Battle) and they come off sounding forced next to this recording. Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is one of my favorite pieces; great text, beautifully integrated music. I can't count the number of times I've put this album into my CD player on repeat. For anyone who isn't a fan of classical vocal music because they think singers always sound too weird, buy this album. You'll understand how it's supposed to be."
Keeps Getting Better
Mark Jordan | Gambier, Ohio, USA | 03/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have had this disc for years, and I'm more impressed with it as the years roll by. I bought it for Barber's "Knoxville, Summer of 1915" which is a glorious piece of music caught here in a luminous performance. I didn't initially warm up to the Harbison songs, but they have grown on me over the years to the point that I listen to them far more often than the Barber now. I think it just took me a while to absorb Harbison's style and understand how deftly and ingeniously he uses it to take the listener into Mirabai's world. Not to be missed!"