Dashow, J.: Songs From A Spiral Tree
Format: DVD Audio
Simonacci, Giancarlo; Logue, Joan; New York New Music Ensemble; Orvieto, Aldo; Shirley, George; Pierce, Lisa; Rosenfeld, Jayn; Buffa, Mario; Visentin, Sonia; Weiss, Lauren; Beavon, Constance; Winn, James; Bova, Lucia
James Dashow’s double album SONGS FROM A SPIRAL TREE—new from Ravello Records—collects many of Dashow’s vocal works into an abundant release. Songs from a Spiral Tree is first on the program; flute, harp, and mezzo-soprano blossom out of the silence as the track begins. Dashow deftly captures the many moods of the fleeting imagery and quicksilver language of Roethke’s poetry, while each of these five songs create a deeply personal and intimate listening experience. Following on the Roethke work we hear settings of another legendary poet, John Ashbery. Ashbery Setting is meticulously crafted music, which provides a deeply expressive interpretation of the poem, Clepsydra, one of Ashbery's finest efforts. Two works with stereophonic electronic sounds are next: in Sul Filo dei Tramonti, due Liriche dalla Mont, poems by Gian Giacomo Menon, the electronic sounds work In tandem with soprano and piano. The sounds add contrapuntal and timbral textures that further elaborate the expressivity of the text. Some Dream Songs sets the words of John Berryman whose short, complex, and above all ironic, poems inspired Dashow to enlarge considerably his compositional bounds, yielding a definitely theatrical dimension to the work. The soprano sings, talks, converses with the violinist, sings ironic comments to the pianist, and so on. This piece can easily be heard as a kind of precursor of Dashow's planetarium opera, ARCHIMEDES. The second of the two works with electronic sounds, Second Voyage, for tenor and computer generated electronic sounds, concludes the two-disc collection. In this piece, the vocal pitches are processed using additive synthesis, ring modulation, and other methods of sonic manipulation. The result is a web of electronic sounds, varying in density and complexity according to the pacing and imagery of the text, that enhance the vocal line while immersing the words in an expressive interpretive context.