Classical CD Reviews

“Winter Songs and other vocal works” = ROBERT PATERSON: Captcha; Winter Songs; Eating Variations; Thursday; Batter’s Box – Jesse Blumberg, bar./ Blair McMillen, p./ David Neal, bass-bar./ Robert Gardner, bar./ Nancy Allen Lundy, sop./ Dimitri Pittas, tenor/ American Modern Ensemble – American Modern Recordings

Subtle and intricate musical settings that truly define the words “art songs”.

Published on January 1, 2014

“Winter Songs and other vocal works” = ROBERT PATERSON: Captcha; Winter Songs; Eating Variations; Thursday; Batter’s Box – Jesse Blumberg, bar./ Blair McMillen, p./ David Neal, bass-bar./ Robert Gardner, bar./ Nancy Allen Lundy, sop./ Dimitri Pittas, tenor/ American Modern Ensemble – American Modern Recordings AMR 1038, 75:01 [12/3/13] ****:

Robert Paterson, a name new to me, hails from Buffalo and is the founder of the American Modern Ensemble, and one assumes, this label as well. Holding degrees from Eastman (BA), Indiana (MA), and Cornell (DMA), the 43-year-old seems an up-and-coming voice that has already garnered a Grammy nomination, a “Composer of the Year” accolade (the Classical Recording Foundation), and one of NPR’s top ten favorite pieces (The Book of Goddesses)  in 2012. His music is quite accessible—no shocks or intentionally disturbing moments in this music—that is intricate, idiomatic to the text, very colorful, and brilliantly wedded to the subtle nuances of vocal expression.

I was going to go over each of these cycles in detail, but now I realize that I would only be saying the same thing over and over. Winter Songs is aptly titled on the album cover, and it remains my favorite, as few cycles I have heard describe the season in all its vicissitudes as deeply—and that includes Winterreise, of which this piece is a perfect antidote. CAPTCHA uses those irritating “words” that we are required to type in when ordering things online—and can rarely read—as texts for a series of songs demonstrating the absolute primacy of the music, and not the words, in all songs, for these have no meaning whatsoever.  [Right, we have CAPTCHA on one of our pages and I hate it…Ed.] The other cycles here are equally affecting, and deliciously varied in their mixture of instrumental accompaniment versus piano-only, with a number of different voice ranges each set to perfection, and performed with admirable vocal panoply. Producer Adam Abeshouse has done a fine job engineering a consistent product across two different locales, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and Westchester Studios. A fine release.

—Steven Ritter




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