Danielpour: Elegies; Sonnets to Orpheus

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Danielpour
WORKS: Elegies; Sonnets to Orpheus
PERFORMER: Ying Huang (soprano), Frederica von Stade (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Hampson (baritone); LPO, Perspectives Ensemble/Roger Nierenberg
This disc contains two song cycles by the American Richard Danielpour (b1956), a composer with a gift for lyrical vocal and instrumental melody in the tradition of Ned Rorem, if with less obvious individuality of utterance. Elegies was a very personal project for Frederica von Stade, based on a series of letters which her father wrote to her mother up to the time he was killed in action in April 1945 – six weeks before she was born. The poet Kim Vaeth used the letters as the basis for a richly allusive dialogue across the years between father and daughter; Danielpour set this (in 1997) to eminently singable lines, accompanied and framed by luminous orchestral writing. The evergreen von Stade herself and Thomas Hampson sing with clarity and compassion. Sonnets to Orpheus (1991) is a cycle for soprano and chamber ensemble on Rilke poems in English translation, not always felicitous in detailed word-setting, but again sitting well on the voice, and easy on the ear with its Ravelian washes of harmony. Ying Huang is a sympathetic soloist. Roger Nierenberg, music director of the Jacksonville SO, obtains expressive playing from both the London orchestra and the New York ensemble; the recordings are excellent. Anthony Burton