Song of the Day

Beginning in January 2017, the Song of the Day will highlight art song performances from around the world. We will feature both established and up-and-coming performers and composers. Feel free to contact if you would like to suggest a song, performer, or composer! 

August 20

As the clock ticks towards midnight... Messiaen's "Minuit pile et face (pour la mort)." As with almost all of his vocal writing, Messiaen wrote the text for this song, the second-to-last in his cycle "Chants de terre et de ciel." The poem describes the feelings of those fears facing us in our moments of greatest loneliness: "Nœuds bien serrés de l’angoisse. Bête inouïe qui mange. Qui bave dans ma poitrine. Tête, tête, quelle sueur ! Et je resterais seul à la mort qui m’enroule ?" But after such anguish, Messiaen's faith comforts him--and the song ends with a beautiful paean to his young son:

Oh ! m’endormir petit ! sous l’air trop large,
dans un lit bleu, la main sous l’oreille,
avec une toute petite chemise.

Sleep well!

August 19

Happy birthday, George Enescu! Born on this day in 1881, this Romanian composer (whose name is sometimes spelled Georges Enesco) has a small but no less valuable song output. This cycle, Sept Chansons de Clément Marot, is his longest, though it is still a relatively early work. After this, Enescu wrote just one more song cycle, in 1916, (though he did spend 20 years working on an operatic setting Oedipus). This beautiful recording comes from mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker and pianist Roger Vignoles.

August 18

Our 2017-2018 season announcement is coming later today!! But first, one last sneak peak...

Pedro Caminha de Amorim's beautiful "Encantamento," performed by Duo 1717: baritone Jean Bernard Cerin and pianist Veena K. Kulkarni.

August 17

If you're half as excited as we are for our 2017-2018 season announcement *tomorrow*, then you'll be twice as excited for today's Song of the Day: an amazing mash-up performed by the indomitable Stephanie Blythe (or Blythely Oratorio), from an opera-drag-cabaret event in Philadelphia this past spring. Enjoy! (For more on this performance, click here.) 

August 16

We already had one 2017-2018 season sneak peak related to this artist earlier today... Here is part two: David Adam Moore and GLMMR's rendition of Schubert's "Winterreise." This project marries not only video footage with art song, but unites the paraphernalia of the modern world--cell phones and cars and so forth--with the musical world of Schubert.

GLMMR is an NYC-based art and design collective founded in 2012. It includes artists and performers from a diverse range of disciplines - photography, choreography, film production, visual art, stage design, music composition, graphic design, theater, dance, and opera - who have distinguished themselves internationally in their respective fields. Its body of work includes gallery installations, theatrical productions, concert visuals, film, commercial video projects, and street art.  DAVID ADAM MOORE is a world-renowned interpreter of both contemporary and traditional vocal music, having created roles for some of today’s most important living composers, while simultaneously garnering critical acclaim for his interpretations of classic works from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. Highly sought-after as a leading baritone by some of the greatest opera houses and orchestras worldwide, he has appeared at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Carnegie Hall, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Grand Théâtre de Genève, Israeli Opera, New York City Opera, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, LA Phil, Staatsoper Hannover, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and American Symphony Orchestra, and many others. His performances have been broadcast on BBC, Arte television, NPR, Radio France, RAI, and Radio Netherlands, and recorded by BMG, GPR, and Innova records.

August 15

I just heard Simon Keenlyside give a wonderful master class at Tanglewood. If you're lucky enough to be in the area in the next week, you can hear him singing Mahler with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on August 18th, and Schubert's Schwanengesang, D.957, with Emanuel Ax on the 23rd! But if not, if you are not one of the lucky few, you can at least have this: a beautiful, live performance of Duparc's "Phidilé" with Malcolm Martineau from 2011.

August 14

Today, Shostakovich's Op. 100, his Spanish Songs. This 15 minute, 6-song cycle sets Spanish (largely folk) texts in Russian. Written for Armenian mezzo-soprano Zara Aleksandrovna Dolukhanova, the songs are simple--realizations of Spanish tunes with a hybrid Russian/Spanish flavor--but no less enjoyable for it. Performed here by Polish contralto Jadwiga Rappe and pianist Waldemar Malicki.

August 11

Joseph Marx's "Pan trauert um Syrinx" (1916) from a set of four settings of Anton Wildgans for voice, piano, and obbligato instruments. This song, subtitled "a mythological scene," is scored for soprano, piano, and flute, and is performed here by soprano Simone Nold, flutist Christoph Renz, and pianist Hagen Schwarzrock.

August 8

A bit of Amy Beach for this evening: Maria Ferrante and Alys Terrien-Queen performing "I Send My Love Up To Thee," from Beach's Browning Songs, Op. 44 (1899-1900).

August 7

Have you watched Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake, and David Alden's film version of Schubert's Winterreise? NY Music critic James Oestreich cited it as one of the top classical music videos this week, ahead of Bostridge's appearance in Hans Zender’s “composed interpretation” of Winterreise next weekend at Mostly Mozart.

For more on Julius Drake, you can also check out our interview with him on the Sparks & Wiry Cries website!

August 6

Today, a stunning performance of Brahms' "Feldeinsamkeit" by Janet Baker and Paul Hamburger. Hamburger, the BBC's staff accompanist for many years, was also pianist Roger Vignoles' mentor, and Vignoles speaks eloquently about learning from this consummate artist.

August 5

From land-locked Vermont, dreams of a sea breeze: Sarah Connolly singing Elgar's "Where Corals Lie" with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Simon Wright.

August 4

Today, Brahms' beautiful "Viola Songs" (Zwei Gesänge, Op. 91) performed by Marian Anderson, Scottish violist William Primrose, and pianist Franz Rupp. An author, writing for the UK's Gramophone Magazine, said the following about this recording: "If ever the Cinderella of strings was destined to become a glowing princess, it was in the hands of William Primrose, a one-time violinist whose adoption of the viola granted it a glorious voice and new-found virtuoso potential. To hear Primrose share Brahms’s two viola songs with that most viola-like of contraltos Marian Anderson is to witness a partnership where the instrument speaks with an almost verbal eloquence and the singer floats a silky thread of tone that any string player might envy." And, lucky Americans would have had a chance to hear Anderson, Primrose, and Rupp perform these pieces in recital at Carnegie Hall on January 4, 1943.

July 30

I love this video of Francis Poulenc and Denise Duval performing selections from "La courte paille"!

July 29

Tonight, an almost unbelievable live performance by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Peter Serkin of Brahm's "Unbewegte laue Luft."

July 28

As you may have noticed from today's Google Doodle, it's the 100th anniversary of the Silent Parade, a protest against violence towards African Americans. It is hard to believe that an entire century has passed, and we are still desperately struggling to rectify inequality in America. So, tonight, Ruby Elzy singing "A City Called Heaven." This recording is a repeat from February, but it is well-worth hearing again. (For the original post, with more biographical information on Elzy, click here.)

July 27

Have you heard about the UK Opera North's "Lullaby Project"? They have an amazing array of lullabies, performed by incredible performers from all over the world and representing many different genres. One of them is Mark Padmore and Simon Lepper's performance of Britten's "There's None to Soothe." You can also hear Sarah Connolly singing more Britten. But the other offerings range from jazz to reggae to Welsh and Hindustani and Northumbrian songs, and blues, and Emma Kirkby, and... Well, just go ahead and explore this box of treasures--this charm of lullabies!

July 26

Tune into WWFM at 6 PM tonight to hear not only the Claude Frank and Lilian Kallir (pictured here on their wedding day at the Marlboro Music Festival in 1959!) play Schumann, but also a work for soprano and bassoon by Francisco Mignone. This latter piece sets Brazilian folk texts with this truly unusual instrumentation to great effect.

July 25

Brahms' beautiful, hypnotic "Lerchengesang," Op. 70 No.2, performed by Agnes Geibel and Sebastian Peschko.

July 24

Happy birthday, Ernest Bloch! This Swiss-born, American composer is probably best known for his violin concerto--which makes perfect sense, since he was also a prodigy violinist--and for a beautiful work for cello and orchestra, Schelomo. But he also wrote works for voice, some with piano and others with orchestra, a number of which reflect his Jewish faith. Indeed, his faith was an extremely important part of his life, musical and otherwise, and said that incorporating it into his compositions was "the only way in which [he could] produce music of vitality and significance." In addition to his own work as a composer, his students included George Antheil, Frederick Jacobi, Quincy Porter, Bernard Rogers, and Roger Sessions. Today, a little-known cycle of poems by Séverin Faust, deserving of many more performances! Thankfully, mezzo-soprano Lauren McAllister and pianist Matthew Umphreys recorded their performance of "Historiettes au Crépuscule." Hopefully some of you will also go on to share it!

July 22

The NY Times posted a number of classical music videos culled from Youtube this weekend, including one of Annelies Kupper singing a selection from Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. This video, of Hindemith's complete "Das Marienleben" with Carl Seemann, has somewhat inferior sound quality but is no less worth listening to! This cycle is rarely heard, and Kupper and Seemann give a beautiful reading of it.

July 20

A fascinating performance of Strauss' Ophelia Lieder by two incredible Canadian artists: Lois Marshall and Glenn Gould.

For past Songs of the Day, see the Sparks & Wiry Cries Facebook page.

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