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Sarah Kirkland Snider: Penelope

Album Summary

>Snider, Sarah Kirkland : Penelope, song cycle for voice & chamber orchestra
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Michael Hammond (programming).

Recording information: Clinton Recording Studios.


A different kind of Odyssey
Last night was Halloween. A night for lost spirits and ghosts to try to find their way back home. A fitting night to listen to “Penelope”, the new album by Sarah Kirkland Snider. Co-written by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, this haunting song cycle tells the story of a man coming home from an unnamed war after twenty years to find his wife still waiting for him. He is a shell of his former self with no memory of life before his traumas other than the structure of his old house. With beautiful and disturbing instrumentation providing the background, Penelope, gorgeously voiced by Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond, reads the text of Homer’s “The Odyssey” in an attempt to bring her “Odysseus” back to her. It is a heart wrenching story that unfortunately is very fitting with the times we live in today. Brad Lubman conducts the fantastic modern chamber ensemble Signal from New York who performs the score. With semi-traditional strings and harp aided by guitars, electric bass, drums and computer programming “Penelope” is rich with challenging texture that evolves and from eerie whispers to rushes of tidal wave like explosions. Worden’s voice drifts gently over the top of this brewing storm much like Odysseus’ ship lost at sea. After the trick or treaters had long gone to bed last night, I lay in bed with headphones on and eyes closed lost inside of Snider’s melancholy world. Strange dreams of creaky old Victorian houses and faded white dressing gowns whipping through storm blown windows slowly crept along the inside of my eyelids as I listened. I was struck by the raw emotions brought to the surface in this music’s plaintive beauty. “Penelope” is not something I would consider listening to every day, but it is important and vital listening. It is a powerful story told in a unique and thoughtful manner that pulls no emotional punches. Taking a fresh turn on Homer’s enduring story, the core of the tale is the strength and unflinching resolve of true love. That willingness to fight through whatever horrors cut and scar and let love persevere and triumph. Though it may not leave you unchanged, it is indeed a beautiful thing.
Submitted on 11/01/10 by a 
Super CD! Different but Accessible and Beautiful.
"Penelope" is a song cycle describing the return of a battle-damaged man to his wife. It consists of a haunting, minimalist-type string ensemble and non-classical percussion accompanying Sarah Snider's beautiful and haunting voice. The lyrics are intertwined with Homer's "Odyssey", which adds to the reflective but eventually uplifting mood of the story. Although the music is quite unusual, it is expertly performed and immediately accessible; my wife and I loved it from the first note. If you like music that doesn't fit a label but is a true piece of art, I highly recommend you get this.
Submitted on 11/06/10 by Dynamic_Andy 
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Works Details

>Snider, Sarah Kirkland : Penelope, song cycle for voice & chamber orchestra
  • Performers: Greg Chudzik (Double Bass); Steve Mackey (Guitar); Grey McMurray; Ted Poor (Drums); Shara Worden (Voice)
  • Conductor: Bradley Lubman
  • Running Time: 51 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Vocal