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Mark Abel: Home Is a Harbor & The Palm Trees Are Restless

Mark Abel: Home Is a Harbor & The Palm Trees Are Restless

World Premiere Recordings


Abel, M:

Home Is a Harbor (opera in 3 acts)

Jamie Chamberlin (soprano), Ariel Pisturino (soprano), Babatunde Akinboboye (baritone), E Scott Levin (baritone), Janelle DeStefano (mezzo-soprano), Jon Lee Keenan (tenor) & Carver Cossey (bass)

The Palm Trees Are Restless (song cycle)

Five Poems of Kate Gale

Hila Plitmann (soprano)


La Brea Sinfonietta, Benjamin Makino

Such words could also describe this stunning new release: Home is a Harbor, Mark’s first opera. And a wondrous bonus in this two-disc set is his latest song cycle, The Palm Trees are Restless (Five Poems of Kate Gale). Both works are prime examples of Abel’s hard-hitting signature style that couches often biting social commentary in a unique musical fusion that combines the depth and sophistication of classical music with the in-your-face impact of rock.

Many of the wonderful singers who graced his previous releases are also members of Home Is a Harbor’s marvelous cast. Palm Trees gets a superlative performance from Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann, known for her work with top contemporary composers, including her husband, Eric Whitacre. Since a veteran of the Afghanistan war is a key character in the opera’s story, Delos will donate a portion of album sales revenue to Veterans’ organizations, beginning with Cathay Post No.384 of the American Legion.

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Delos - DE3495

(CD - 2 discs)

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Terrain of the Heart

Terrain of the Heart

Song Cycles of Mark Abel


Abel, M:

The Dark-Eyed Chameleon

Jamie Chamberlin (soprano)

Poems (5) of Rainer Maria Rilke

Ariel Pisturino (soprano)

Rainbow Songs

Jamie Chamberlin (soprano)


Victoria Kirsch (piano)

Recorded in Burbank, California, United States, 12-15 June and 13-15 September 2013.

Mark Abel’s critically heralded previous release on Delos, the orchestral cycle 'The Dream Gallery', signalled a radical and culturally relevant new approach to the American art song.

With 'Terrain of the Heart', Abel takes a fresh look at the idiom, while working within the genre’s more traditional framework: as a recital vehicle for solo voice and piano.

Abel’s hard-­hitting lyrics leave a lasting impression, burrowing all the deeper into one’s consciousness when amplified by his sophisticated musical fusion of classical and rock, aimed at broad-­minded listeners, classically couth or not.

Of the three cycles offered, The Dark-­Eyed Chameleon radiates particularly intense personal emotion, tracing the agonizing breakup of Abel’s own love affair. The thematically diverse Rainbow Songs offer a certain unity of sentiment and musical language. The Five Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke explores the German master’s subtly mysterious inner visions.

Sopranos Jamie Chamberlin and Ariel Pisturino, with pianist Victoria Kirsch, offer committed and convincing performances.

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Delos - DE3438

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The Dream Gallery

The Dream Gallery

Seven California Portraits


Abel, M:

Helen (Los Angeles)

Mary Jaeb (soprano)

Todd (Taft)

David Marshman (baritone)

Naomi (Berkeley)

Janelle DeStefano (mezzo-soprano)

Carol (San Diego)

Delaney Gibson (mezzo-soprano)

Lonnie (Richmond)

Carver Cosssey (bass)

Luz (Soledad)

Martha Jane Weaver (contralto)

Adam (Arcata)

Tom Zohar (tenor)


La Brea Sinfonietta, Sharon Lavery

Paul McCartney's tried it; Elvis Costello, too. So have Sting, Peter Gabriel, and even Leonard Bernstein. But a maverick California composer named Mark Abel has created what may be the most elegant and persuasive attempt yet to marry classical and rock. So get ready for a unique and powerful listening experience.

The Dream Gallery is an evocative, sophisticated and hard-hitting cycle of songs for soloists and chamber orchestra that explores the inner lives, struggles, illusions and home turf of seven archetypal Californians. The often startling lyrics and striking music combine to pierce straight to the heart of the human condition, while laying bare the flaws, foibles and sins of the society we all share, Californians or not. With winning performances from singers and orchestra alike, these stunning songs reveal a fresh style – decades in the making – in which the core content of classical and rock has been so thoroughly crossbred as to constitute a new strain of American art song.

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Delos - DE3418

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Abrahamsen: Let me tell you

Abrahamsen: Let me tell you


Read Katherine's exclusive interview with Hans Abrahamsen about the project here.

Premiered by soprano Barbara Hannigan [with the Berlin Philharmonic] and conductor Andris Nelsons in 2013. 'Let me tell you', winner of the 2016 Gawemeyer Award, is a setting of a libretto by Paul Griffiths. The work is based on Griffiths’ 2008 novel of the same name, using the limited vocabulary which Shakespeare afforded Ophelia to create a more complex idea of the character. Comprising seven poems, the work is divided into three parts devoted to Ophelia’s past, present and future.

Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen was smitten by the idea of scoring Paul Griffiths’ novella 'let me tell you'; Barbara Hannigan, asked to sing at a surprise party for the writer and critic, dared to suggest a commission to the Berlin Philharmonic. Before she knew it, they had accepted. While many world premieres fall into oblivion, she has ensured subsequent performances with the Gothenburg Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony this season; other orchestras have plans to programme the work further down the line. The soprano, who has sung some 80 premieres, feels such a strong sense of responsibility that she compares the piece to a baby: "Don’t drop it," she wants to say, "keep it clothed and nourished." This is the second time that a musical setting of a text by Paul Griffiths has won the Grawemeyer (Tan Dun's Marco Polo won in 1998). The piece also won the 2014 Royal Philharmonic Society award for large-scale composition, which described it as "a work of exquisite beauty whose ravishing surface belies a meticulously imagined and innovative score". Abrahamsen’s other accolades include the Carl Nielsen Prize (1989) and the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize (1998).

Hannigan has revealed just how involved she was at the early stages of the composition process: this being the composer’s first sung work, she [Hannigan] gave him a four-hour session in vocal music from Renaissance to 12-tone. "I think that’s why the writing doesn’t feel like modern music to me," she says. "I feel like it has always been there. Even though the intervals and rhythms might be difficult, the lyricism has a timeless quality."

“Abrahamsen expresses both the fragility and force of Griffiths's imagined Ophelia through glinting, gauze-like textures and moments of clattering tumult…Barbara Hannigan's agile, luminous voice is ideal, and sings with power and subtlety, superbly matched by Andris Nelsons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra” BBC Music Magazine, May 2016 *****

“The spare yet pregnant lines of text meet Abrahamsen’s finely spun textures and each word feels felt and weighed in music. Possibly you don’t even need to know that Barbara Hannigan is singing Ophelia’s words any more, yet her vehemence and passion suggest she thinks justice is finally being done to a woman who never did get much chance to tell her side of the story” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“Abrahamsen’s ethereal magic brilliantly treats Paul Griffith’s patchwork of lines from Shakespeare’s Ophelia, and there can be no better advocate for any composer than Ms. Hannigan. Mr. Nelsons’s conducting is smooth, the Bavarians’ playing revealing and true.” New York Times, 15th December 2016

“It was created for soprano Barbara Hannigan and is a stunning vehicle for her, with its floating, effortless-sounding high notes and pure, expressive tone. Her Ophelia is intense and fragile, sensuous and febrile; her phrasing is elastic and tasteful...The piece won this year’s $100,000 Grawemeyer award and it’s easy to hear why.” The Guardian, 14th January 2016 *****

“the piece, a winner of a Grawemeyer and an RPS award, contains a whole ocean of melancholy and ferocity. This is realised by the extraordinary soprano Barbara Hannigan and by Abrahamsen’s wondrous score, which embraces Romantic echoes and fascinating microtonal clusters … What emerges is a postmodern portrait of a woman with much more of an inner life than even the Bard may have realised.” The Times, 5th February 2016 *****

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2016

Winner - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2016

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Winter and Winter - 9102322

(CD)

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Hans Abrahamsen: Let me tell you - Vinyl Edition

Hans Abrahamsen: Let me tell you - Vinyl Edition


Abrahamsen:

Let me tell you


Read Katherine's exclusive interview with Hans Abrahamsen about the project here.

Premiered by soprano Barbara Hannigan [with the Berlin Philharmonic] and conductor Andris Nelsons in 2013. 'Let me tell you', winner of the 2016 Gawemeyer Award, is a setting of a libretto by Paul Griffiths. The work is based on Griffiths’ 2008 novel of the same name, using the limited vocabulary which Shakespeare afforded Ophelia to create a more complex idea of the character. Comprising seven poems, the work is divided into three parts devoted to Ophelia’s past, present and future.

Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen was smitten by the idea of scoring Paul Griffiths’ novella 'let me tell you'; Barbara Hannigan, asked to sing at a surprise party for the writer and critic, dared to suggest a commission to the Berlin Philharmonic. Before she knew it, they had accepted. While many world premieres fall into oblivion, she has ensured subsequent performances with the Gothenburg Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony this season; other orchestras have plans to programme the work further down the line. The soprano, who has sung some 80 premieres, feels such a strong sense of responsibility that she compares the piece to a baby: "Don’t drop it," she wants to say, "keep it clothed and nourished." This is the second time that a musical setting of a text by Paul Griffiths has won the Grawemeyer (Tan Dun's Marco Polo won in 1998). The piece also won the 2014 Royal Philharmonic Society award for large-scale composition, which described it as "a work of exquisite beauty whose ravishing surface belies a meticulously imagined and innovative score". Abrahamsen’s other accolades include the Carl Nielsen Prize (1989) and the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize (1998).

Hannigan has revealed just how involved she was at the early stages of the composition process: this being the composer’s first sung work, she [Hannigan] gave him a four-hour session in vocal music from Renaissance to 12-tone. "I think that’s why the writing doesn’t feel like modern music to me," she says. "I feel like it has always been there. Even though the intervals and rhythms might be difficult, the lyricism has a timeless quality."

“It was created for soprano Barbara Hannigan and is a stunning vehicle for her, with its floating, effortless-sounding high notes and pure, expressive tone. Her Ophelia is intense and fragile, sensuous and febrile; her phrasing is elastic and tasteful...The piece won this year’s $100,000 Grawemeyer award and it’s easy to hear why.” The Guardian, 14th January 2016 *****

“It was created for soprano Barbara Hannigan and is a stunning vehicle for her, with its floating, effortless-sounding high notes and pure, expressive tone. Her Ophelia is intense and fragile, sensuous and febrile; her phrasing is elastic and tasteful...The piece won this year’s $100,000 Grawemeyer award and it’s easy to hear why.” The Guardian, 14th January 2016 *****

“the piece, a winner of a Grawemeyer and an RPS award, contains a whole ocean of melancholy and ferocity. This is realised by the extraordinary soprano Barbara Hannigan and by Abrahamsen’s wondrous score, which embraces Romantic echoes and fascinating microtonal clusters … What emerges is a postmodern portrait of a woman with much more of an inner life than even the Bard may have realised.” The Times, 5th February 2016 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2016

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Winter and Winter - LP9172321

(Vinyl)

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Usually despatched in 4 - 5 working days.

John Adams - Shaker Loops

John Adams - Shaker Loops


Adams, J:

Shaker Loops

Short Ride in a Fast Machine

The Wound-Dresser

Nathan Gunn (baritone)

Berceuse élégiaque


“Marin Alsop and her Bournemouth players do themselves proud on this excellently played and brightly recorded disc.” Classics Today

“A near-perfect Adams Primer containing his tender and powerful meditation, to words by Walt Whitman, on the subject of those lost to AIDS.
Touchingly performed by Nathan Gunn.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2004

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Naxos American Classics - 8559031

(CD)

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American Classics - Bruce Adolphe

American Classics - Bruce Adolphe


Adolphe, B:

Ladino Songs of Love and Suffering

Lucy Shelton (soprano), Eliot Fisk (guitar), David Jolley (french horn)

Mikhoels the Wise (excerpt)

Erie Mills (soprano). Nathaniel Watson (baritone)

Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz

Out of the Whirlwind

John Aler (tenor), Phyllis Pancella (mezzo-soprano)

College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony, Rodney Winther


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Naxos American Classics Milken Archive - 8559413

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Do you Dream in Color?

Do you Dream in Color?


Adolphe, B:

Do You Dream in Color

Marija Stroke (piano)

Fauré:

Les berceaux, Op. 23 No. 1

Marija Stroke (piano)

Clair de Lune, Op. 46 No. 2

Marija Stroke (piano)

En sourdine, Op. 58 No. 2 (Verlaine)

Marija Stroke (piano)

Nell, Op. 18 No. 1

Marija Stroke (piano)

Rodrigo:

Cantiga: muy graciosa es la doncella

Marija Stroke (piano)

Soneto

Marija Stroke (piano)

Romance del Comendador de Ocaña Serranilla

Marija Stroke (piano)

Canción del grumete

Marija Stroke (piano)

Barcarola

Marija Stroke (piano)

Esta niña se lleva la flor

Marija Stroke (piano)

Sivan:

In the Mountains of Jerusalem

Noam Sivan (piano)


Laurie Rubin (mezzo-soprano)

The title work on this disc ‘Do You Dream in Color?’ is both a personal memoir and a celebration of the human spirit: an emotional, probing dramatic text that explores the nature of blindness and of human perception.

Laurie Rubin's remarkable debut disc includes songs sung in four languages. She sings in English, Spanish, French, accompanied by the excellent Marija Stroke, and completes her recital in Hebrew, performing with brilliant composer/pianist Noam Sivan.

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Bridge - BRIDGE9364

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I Am Wind On Sea

I Am Wind On Sea

Contemporary Vocal Music from Ireland


Agnew, E:

April Agnew

Bodley:

After Great Pain

Boyle, I:

Three Songs by Walter de la Mare

Buckley, J:

I am Wind on Sea

Clarke, Rhona:

smiling like that…

O'Farrell:

The Hoopoe Song


Aylish Kerrigan (mezzo), Dearbhla Collins (piano)

Six accomplished composers from Ireland are featured in this album, five of them very much contemporary and thriving, and one, Ina Boyle, who died in 1967 leaving a fascinating catalogue of works which are very rarely performed – indeed her name has all but been forgotten. Most of the pieces here are for voice and piano, though two, those by Buckley and Clarke, are for voice with percussion and some electronic dubbing and looping in the case of the Clarke, which is an off-the-wall setting of James Joyce.

Aylish Kerrigan is one of the foremost interpreters of traditional Irish vocal music, and of Brecht, and her one-woman Broadway-style shows won acclaim when given in New York, Paris, Berlin and Dublin. She is a guest professor at Wuhan Conservatory in China where she gives masterclasses in performance of Lieder and has recorded Schoenberg’s Op.15 and songs by Ives for release by us in 2017. Her accompanist Dearbhla Collins has performed worldwide especially in German Lieder, contemporary art song and theatre music.

Each of the works is receiving its first recording.

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Metier - MSV28558

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Aho: Kiinalaisia lauluja & Symphony No. 4

Aho: Kiinalaisia lauluja & Symphony No. 4


Aho:

Kiinalaisia lauluja (Chinese Songs)

Symphony No. 4


Tiina Vahevaara (soprano)

Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä

“The Chinese Songs...are a set of six which evoke Chinese musical idioms and scales without reaching condescension or that cutesy orientalism which western composers so often fall into...The Symphony No. 4, by contrast, is a monumental, melancholic, almost reverential work...More or less every performance in the BIS Aho series is outstanding.” MusicWeb International, 2nd May 2014

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BIS - BISCD1066

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