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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Polly Butler Cornelius, Wild Songs

This is a vocal recital of songs by Steve Heitzeg and Lori Laitman. Polly Butler Cornelius fills the room with her soprano delivery. She is joined by Victoria Fischer Faw on piano and the percussion work of Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd. The recital is named after Heitzeg's three-work cycle Wild Songs (Innova 825), which through its "natural" percussion and environmental sounds, and lyrics centering around the environment and its preservation, bring the mood toward the organic, so to say.

The song program has a touch of minimalism in a kind of referencing of a tribal sound (especially the marimba in "Wild Songs") but mostly it builds around the American song heritage begun by Ives and continued by Copland, Harrison and others. It's not Americana per se but rather draws upon the long tradition of song in America.

Lyrics follow suit, with two cycles based on Emily Dickinson poems, and one, sadly, on the last words of Robert Kennedy.

Polly Butler Cornelius has a fairly wide vibrato that takes a bit of getting used to. But she is dramatic and dynamic in this recital and the song material is very much worth hearing.

American art song? Here are some good examples of the new/natural in the old and the old in the new/natural.

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