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Open House: Songs Cycles by William Bolcom & Robert Beaser / Paul Sperry, tenor

> Songs from The Occasions - No. 1. Motet I: The Pledge
> Songs from The Occasions - No. 2. Motet IV: Lontano, ero con te
> Songs from The Occasions - No. 3. Motet V: Addii, fischi nel buio
> Songs from The Occasions - No. 4. Motet IX: Il ramarro, se scocca
> Songs from The Occasions - No. 5. Motet XVI: Il fiore che ripete
> Songs from The Occasions - No. 6. Autumn Cellars
> Open House - No. 1. Open House
> Open House - No. 2. Give Way, Ye Gates
> Open House - No. 3. The Waking
> Open House - No. 4. The Serpent
> Open House - No. 5. I Knew A Woman
> Open House - No. 6. First Meditation
> Open House - No. 7. The Right Thing

Album Summary

>Beaser, Robert : Songs from "The Occasions", for voice & orchestra
>Bolcom, William : Open House, song cycle for voice & orchestra
Performer Conductors Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

The pair of monumental song cycles for tenor and chamber ensemble that comprise the new CD Open House in many ways represent a culmination of 20th century American art song. Written for lyrical tenor and longtime champion of new work Paul Sperry, the songs by William Bolcom and Robert Beaser combine poetry and music to create a heady mixture that brims with refinement and craft. Sperry is at home in a repertoire that extends from Monteverdi opera and Bach Passions to Britten's "Nocturne" and hundreds of songs in more than a dozen languages, but it is to American music that he has brought a conviction and enthusiasm that has breathed life into it for countless listeners.

"Paul Sperry has surpluses of songfulness, curiosity, and intelligence." - The New Yorker

American Record Guide, March / April 2013
The music is engaging and employs a wide range of compositional expression. Bolcom's cycle is the more challenging vocally and calls forth a wider range of expression. Sperry has been a champion of contemporary music, and he sings these works well. His diction is clear and his light lyric voice has a penetrating quality. The recorded sound is significantly different in each cycle; the excellent analog sound is more spacious.

Notes & Reviews:

Paul Sperry's 2012 release on Innova consists of two important performances separated by almost 23 years: William Bolcom's Open House, A Song Cycle to Seven Poems of Theodore Roethke, was recorded with Dennis Russell Davies and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for Nonesuch in 1975, and Robert Beaser's Songs from The Occasions of Eugenio Montale was recorded with Kenneth Klein and the New York Virtuosi in 1998. Despite the passage of time, Sperry's voice is strong and limber in both performances, and his powers of communication are well-matched in the two recordings, which display a wide range of moods and expressions, and not a few technical challenges. Yet there are important differences. Beaser's songs are scored for tenor and a septet of flute, clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cello, and piano, which is sparely used, while in Bolcom's cycle, the tenor is more substantially accompanied by a chamber orchestra. As a result, Beaser's music often calls for a quiet, intimate delivery, while Bolcom's is much more theatrical and extroverted. There is also the difference between the close-up digital recording of the 1998 performance and the analog sound of 1975, which puts Sperry at noticeable distance. The value of this CD to followers of these composers is quite high, because Open House was only ever available on LP and Songs from The Occasions appears never to have been commercially available. ~ Blair Sanderson


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Works Details

>Beaser, Robert : Songs from "The Occasions", for voice & orchestra
  • Performer: Paul Sperry
  • Conductor: Kenneth Klein
  • Ensemble: Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York
  • Running Time: 23 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1985

>Bolcom, William : Open House, song cycle for voice & orchestra
  • Performer: Paul Sperry
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Ensemble: St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
  • Running Time: 32 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1975