Parlor & Minstrel Songs
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America's greatest songwriter from the 19th Century in charming performances.

Stephen Foster was a figure of contradictions: the composer was much loved by the public, but was at the same time a thoughtless husband and father. While his songs reflect a real intimacy with the antebellum South, Foster was not from the South and only once traveled into the region. Was he merely an "artless genius" who knew little about music or a well-studied craftsman? Foster was America's earliest popular and successful songwriter. Yet he died alone and penniless - not in the South, not even at his family home in Pittsburgh - but at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. While Stephen Foster's personal and business habits may have been chaotic, research has shown the man to have been a dedicated musician. Despite early biographers' description of an unschooled lightweight, the fact is that Foster carefully studied the American minstrel tradition and knew German Lieder and Irish-Scottish song literature. Foster's songs are often set for multiple voices, diverse instruments and even a cappella chorus. It is the intention of this recording to present the wealth of Foster's music - but not with a lone vocalist and accompanist from a single musical vantage point. Instead, both "classical" and "folk" musicians have gathered to sing and play on dulcimers, fiddles, accordions, pennywhistles and old pianos. Despite occasional wheezing, crunching and crackling, we hope these antique instruments - and our wonderful contemporary vocalists - will charm the listener and capture something of Stephen Foster's diverse genius that one might have experienced on a little 19th century concert stage, a street corner or on a back porch.
Contents:
Stephen Foster, composer
The Glendy Burke
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Ridley Enslow, fiddle, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Nelly Was a Lady
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Julianne Baird, soprano, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Melinda May
Frederick Urrey, tenor, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
The Soiree Polka
John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
The Moustache Song
Julianne Baird, soprano, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
O Willie, Is It You, Dear?
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Mr. & Mrs. Brown
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Frederick Urrey, tenor, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
Gem from Lucia #1
Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
Wilt Thou Be Gone?
Julianne Baird, soprano, Frederick Urrey, tenor, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
The Voices That Are Gone
Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Old Black Joe
Julianne Baird, soprano, Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Frederick Urrey, tenor, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
Maggie By My Side
Julianne Baird, soprano, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Camptown Ladies
Frederick Urrey, tenor, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
Hard Times
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Ridley Enslow, fiddle, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Gems from Lucia #2, #3
Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
The Shanghai Chicken
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
Beautiful Dreamer
Frederick Urrey, tenor, John Van Buskirk, fortepiano


Stephen Foster, composer
Ah! May the Red Rose Live Always
Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
Nelly Bly
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Ridley Enslow, fiddle, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
I Dream of Jeannie
Linda Russell, alto and dulcimer, Julianne Baird, soprano, Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion


Stephen Foster, composer
O Susannah & Some Folks
Steve Schneider, dulcimer, harmonica, recorder, accordion, Ridley Enslow, fiddle

Review:
"One of the attractions of the arrangement is their simple accompaniments... it's difficult singling out a favorite or favorites." (InTune)
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