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Vocal  To Be Sung Upon the Water 
To Be Sung Upon the Water
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To Be Sung Upon the Water
Patrice Michaels, soprano
Elizabeth Buccheri, piano
Larry Combs, clarinet
Jeffrey Kust, guitar
Elliott Golub, violin
Cedille Records CDR 90000 029

"Dominick Argento (b. 1927) . . . is one the leading living exponents of American neo-Romanticism . . . Patrice Michaels Bedi['s] . . . instrument is beautifully shaped, balanced, and focused . . . I find her a major talent for interpretation of American vocal music. The remaining performers contribute with great skill and sensitivity, and the sound is almost ideal." (Fanfare)

"A thoroughly satisfying release." (American Record Guide)

Soprano Patrice Michaels relishes ambitious recording projects that demand an inordinate range of vocal and intellectual talent -- projects the average modern diva couldn't attempt. This CD presents performances ranging from dramatic characterizations in Letters from Composers to flat-out coloratura in Vaughan Williams' Three Vocalises for Soprano and Clarinet.

"What a delightful surprise," Argento says of the CD. "Not only does Miss Michaels Bedi sing these songs beautifully, but her various partners . . . are equally sensitive performers. Bravo to all."

The disc includes the world premiere recording of Argento's Songs about Spring for voice and piano, based on poems by e.e. cummings. "This first recording . . . should serve as a model for all future performances," the composer says. Argento composed this song cycle (his first) while still an undergraduate at Baltimore's Peabody Institute of Music.

Here, too, is the only available CD recording of Letters from Composers for voice and guitar. Based on letters and fragments of letters written by Chopin, Mozart, Schubert, Bach, Debussy, Puccini, and Schumann, they illustrate a wide range of personal problems having almost no relevance to their compositional careers. The musical settings show Argento's understanding of each composer's expressive style.

To Be Sung Upon the Water (Wordsworth settings scored for high voice, clarinet, and piano) is available in only one other version -- a reissue from the 1970s. The cycle is noteworthy for the subtle and sensitive use of clarinet and bass clarinet (performed here by Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist Larry Combs).

The clarinet reappears in Vaughan Williams' Three Vocalises for Soprano and Clarinet, one of the composer's last works. Vaughan Williams' love of early English folk music is evident in the song selections from Along the Field, his settings of A.E. Housman poems for the unusual combination of voice and violin. These are the only available CD versions of these songs and vocalises.

Miss Michaels studied composition with Argento at the University of Minnesota. They share a fondness for intimate vocal forms and a distinct literary sensibility. "Argento's works impress on the listeners a strong musical personality, a result of his being drawn perpetually to the human voice" (New Grove Dictionary of American Music). For her part, Miss Michaels told Fanfare magazine (September / October 1996) in an interview: "I've always been attracted to the literary impulse behind the music." Besides producing musical sounds, she wants to tell stories.
Click here to download the CD booklet.

Click the Cedille Player at the upper left to hear excerpts from the tracks highlighted in red below. These have been carefully chosen as representative of the recording program.

PROGRAM (79:34)

Dominick Argento (b. 1927)
Letters from Composers (26:24)
with Jeffrey Kust, guitar
1. Frederic Chopin (3:55)
2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (3:07)
3. Franz Schubert (4:51)
4. Johann Sebastian Bach (3:39)
5. Claude Debussy (3:28)
6. Giacomo Puccini (2:29)
7. Robert Schumann (4:36)

Argento: Songs About Spring (10:45)
with Elizabeth Buccheri, piano
World Premiere Recording
8. I. who knows if the moons a balloon (2:11)
9. II. Spring is like a perhaps hand (2:50)
10. III. in Just-spring (1:31)
11. IV. in Spring comes (1:34)
12. V. when faces called flowers (2:26)

Argento: To Be Sung Upon the Water (27:22) with Larry Combs, clarinet & Elizabeth Buccheri, piano
13. I. Prologue: Shadow and Substance (3:33)
14. II. The Lake at Evening (3:08)
15. III. Music on the Water (3:15)
16. IV. Fair is the Swan (1:38)
17. V. In Remembrance of Schubert (3:43)
18. VI. Hymn Near the Rapids (2:43)
19. VII. The Lake at Night (3:59)
20. VIII. Epilogue: De profundis (5:00)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Three Vocalises for Soprano and Clarinet (4:02) with Larry Combs, clarinet
21. I. Prelude (1:52)
22. II. Scherzo (0:40)
23. III. Quasi menuetto (1:25)

Vaughan Williams
selections from Along the Field (10:36) with Elliott Golub, violin
24. II. Along the Field (2:49)
25. VI. Good-Bye (2:24)
26. VII. Fancys Knell (3:41)
27. VIII. With Rue My Heart is Laden (1:33)

Recorded: June 17-21, 1996 in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago / Producer: James Ginsburg / Engineers: Mitchell G. Heller and Lawrence Rock / Cover Photography: Dan Rest and Erik S. Lieber / Design: Cheryl A Boncuore / Notes: W. Stuart Pope