A Breath Upwards

A Breath Upwards

Description: 
Breathing life into myth, and myth into life
Composers: 
Milton Babbitt
Michael Hersch
Performers: 
Ah Young Hong
Miranda Cuckson
Gleb Kanasevich
Jamie Hersch
Catalog Number: 
#986
Genre: 
new classical
Collection: 
solo voice
analog
Location: 

Baltimore, MD

UPC: 
726708698621
Price: 
$15.00
Release Date: 
Mar 23, 2018
Liner Notes: 
View
1 CD

A Breath Upwards

One Sheet: 

Music, song, and poetry have long enjoyed a stimulating relationship; coming together for expressive ends and sometimes colliding in dramatic showdowns. None more so than in these vocal works by two composers who often explore extremes, Milton Babbitt and Michael Hersch.

Babbitt’s Philomel (1964) was an audacious stab at recasting conventions of song (such as voice with accompaniment), by redistributing the text between live voice, recorded voice, and analog synthesizer. The fragmentary words and syllables by poet John Hollander retell Ovid’s story of the rape and subsequent transformation of Philomel into a nightingale; aptly paralleled by the metamorphosis of the human and artificial sonorities. Originally created for the extraordinary voice of Bethany Beardslee, this tour de force of vocal acrobatics has a new champion in Ah Young Hong who navigates the challenges with startling intensity.

Fifty years later, equally elegant, but perhaps darker and more unsettling is Michael Hersch’s a breath upwards (2014) for voice and ensemble that includes Miranda Cuckson, Gleb Kanasevich, and Jamie Hersch. Here the texts are from Dante’s Purgatorio and Ezra Pounds’ Cantos, again suggestive of tortuous travels through shadowy forests along with swooping birds. Together these giant works demonstrate the beauty of harrowing melancholy and elegantly profound depths of raw human emotion.

None of that would resonate without the astonishing talents of Baltimore soprano, Ah Young Hong. Her fervor, flawless accuracy, and riveting tone convey the myriad shards and flavors of the music with apparent ease and assurance. She serves as a comforting guide to the unknowable journeys of the soul.

 

Reviews: 

BURNING AMBULANCE

"I need to get this on the record from the start: Soprano Ah Young Hong is a wonder. She has a remarkable sound and seemingly limitless technique. Her performance of the two daunting works on this disc, Milton Babbitt’s Philomel and Michael Hersch’s a breath upwards, is nothing short of breathtaking." [FULL ARTICLE] - Steve Hicken

THE WHOLE NOTE

"a breath upwards by Michael Hersch, sparse and angular as it is, is positively lush by comparison. It was specifically crafted for the voice of Hong"  [FULL ARTICLE]

ARTS & CULTURE MAVEN

"Hong's superb vocal facility, along with the able instrumental accompaniment, highlights the sheer beauty of the works while drawing the listener into the emotional heart of the music on a grand scale.” [FULL ARTICLE]

MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL

"Sharply etched and potently communicative, this is a recording that no fan of challenging modern vocal music should be without...you will find this production sticks around in the memory for longer than you might expect." [FULL ARTICLE] - Dominy Clements

 

GAPPLEGATE CLASSICAL-MODERN MUSIC REVIEW

"These are landmark performances of two landmark works we need to take into account, appreciate, enjoy, explore." [FULL ARTICLE] - Grego Edwards

KATHODIK

"Hersch's composition's intensely exploits the tonal and technical possibilities of the instruments that interact with the solid voice of the brilliant singer." [FULL ARTICLE] - A.G. Bertinetto

OPERA NEWS

"Even at its most astringent, Hersch’s music always has something compelling and insightful to say. This piece is as vital and original as any of today’s music." [FULL ARTICLE