Songs of Virgil Thomson
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A definitive collection of songs by America's master composer.

Dora Ohrenstein in her notes for this disc writes: "At its best Thomson's music achieves an eloquence all the more moving because it is done with such seemingly simple means. And in no genre is this more true than in his vocal music, where his outstanding literary skills came into play. Thomson was a gifted writer of prose, and he had an unerring ear and feel for language. When these talents were put to use in the setting of a text the results are exemplary - indeed, his achievements here are seldom disputed. That recognition has focused primarily on his fidelity to the natural rhythms and cadences of speech and for Thomson this was an enduring concern. Writing about his first song settings of poems by Gertrude Stein, he says: "My hope in putting Gertrude Stein to music had been to break, crack open, and solve for all time anything still waiting to be solved, which was almost everything, about English musical declamation. My theory was that if a text is set correctly for the sound of it, the meaning will take care of itself...I had no sooner put to music...one short Stein text than I knew I had opened a door. I had never had any doubts about Stein's poetry; from then on I had none about my ability to handle it in music. His text settings are models of clarity, but closer examination reveals that there is far more to admire in Thomson's handling of poetry. Time and time again, he finds ingenious ways to reveal a poem's structure, enhance and amplify its meaning, and underline the potent word or image." Here we have a wonderful selection of songs by this fine American composer who composed so well for the voice.
Contents:
Virgil Thomson, composer
Preciosilla
Dora Ohrenstein, soprano, Phillip Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
Susie Asado
Glenn Siebert, tenor, Phillip Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
La Belle en Dormant
Glenn Siebert, tenor, Phillip Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
Stabat Mater
Dora Ohrenstein, soprano, Cassat Quartet

Virgil Thomson, composer
Five Songs from William Blake
William Sharp, baritone, Phillp Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
Four Songs to poems of Thomas Campion
Glenn Siebert, tenor, Phillip Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
Mostly About Love
Dora Ohrenstein, soprano, Phillip Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
Tres Estampas de Niñez
Glenn Siebert, tenor, Phillip Bush, piano

Virgil Thomson, composer
Two by Marianne Moore
William Sharp, baritone, Phillp Bush, piano

Review:
"Thomson's songs, like the many character pieces for piano that he wrote throughout his life, show his range as a composer better than his most famous works...What all of these songs have in common, though, is a remarkable simplicity. This quality is not in the technical aspects of the setting; some are indeed quite demanding vocally and pianistically. Nor is it in the basic textures of the songs, which are occasionally quite demanding vocally and pianistically. Nor is it in the basic textures of the songs, which are occasionally quite elaborate. The simplicity is in the expression, which is usually direct and immediately communicative....In this thoughtfully assembled collection of songs, Thomson's expertise is aptly matched by the intelligence of the singers and accompanist....With very nice recorded sound, this disc can be enthusiastically recommended."
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