The Lay of the Love

The Lay of the Love

Tender encounters
Lisa Bielawa
Jesse Blumberg
Jocelyn Dueck
Colin Jacobsen
Evelyne Luest
Adam Abeshouse
Lisa Bielawa
Sadie Dawkins Rosales
Catalog Number: 
new classical
solo voice

San Francisco, CA

Release Date: 
Jun 30, 2015
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

At the heart of composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa’s new album The Lay of the Love is her 25-minute work based on Rainer Maria Rilke’s epic poem, “The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke.” Together the music and lyrics contemplate the loss of innocence and address the sobering notion that all die young. Bielawa completed The Lay of the Love and Death for baritone, violin and piano in 2006, and it was premiered at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall that year. She says of the work, “Perhaps the poet Rilke, suddenly aware of his own mortality, was also already aware that, although many of us continue living into more reflective, circumspect years, in a sense all of us die young, because the innocence of our young selves cannot survive the various awarenesses that are the inevitable result of a prolonged tender encounter with a troubled world.”

The album also includes Wait for piano with drone, premiered by pianist Evelyne Luest with members of Contrasts Quartet at New York City’s Merkin Concert Hall in 2002. It is the second of four related works based on six lines from Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, which Bielawa describes as “passages of great intimacy and vulnerability.” Hurry, Bielawa’s recreation in musical time of the experience she had when reading Boris Pasternak’s poem “Hurry, My Verses,” completes the album. It was premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2004. The Lay of the Love features performances by acclaimed musicians: baritone Jesse Blumberg; soprano Sadie Dawkins Rosales; pianists Jocelyn Dueck, Benjamin Hochman and Evelyne Luest; violinist Colin Jacobsen; cellist Eric Jacobsen; clarinetist Anthony McGill; and flutist Lance Suzuki.

Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literature and artistic collaborations. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival. Bielawa was appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2013.

Her music is frequently performed throughout the US and Europe, with recent highlights including a residency at The Stone, a Radio France commission, and world premieres of “Rondolette” by Brooklyn Rider and Bruce Levingston, “Double Violin Concerto” by Boston Modern Orchestra Project, “The Right Weather” by American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, “Chance Encounter” by Susan Narucki and The Knights, and “Airfield Broadcasts,” a work for hundreds of musicians performed on former airfields in Germany and California. Her current project is “Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser,” a serial opera created for episodic broadcast.


“[T]he formal sophistication and lyrical richness of Bielawa’s music go deep."

"[A] distinctive blend of Romantic effusion and steely, almost austere contemporaneity. ... [T]he result is a fluid and arresting creation that is at once dramatic and probing." [FULL ARTICLE]
Joshua Kosman 

WQXR (Album of the Week)
"[Bielawa's] music is dominated by a powerful sense of line and a focus on illuminating the text with musical gestures. ... [T]he writing is at once highly evocative and highly idiomatic." [FULL ARTICLE]
Daniel Stephen Johnson

"Lisa Bielawa’s album The Lay of the Love speaks to the amazing ways humans find hope and comfort in dark times. ... In the album’s closing piece, 'Hurry,' a soprano narrator digs deep to find a creative muse during a bleak period in her life, and a chamber ensemble cries out alongside her. There’s an inspirational message here for anyone who needs a pick-me-up." [FULL ARTICLE]
Jill Kimball

"[A]n album abundant with opportunities for rich listening." [FULL ARTICLE]
Stephen Smoliar

"Lisa Bielawa is proving to be one of Innova’s greatest assets, a composer of strong personality who puts musical values first, yet can readily create both drama and spontaneity in the recording studio. This profoundly beautiful disc The Lay of the Love is a perfect example of this. ... The music is dramatic, deeply soulful and with allusions to the horror of war. ... Although the music opens and closes with a sense of foreboding, it is essentially lyrical, full of yearning, representing the world of mortals and blessed spirits. ... Strong characterisation and the full-bodied almost Germanic vocal score shape the melodic and miraculously beautiful ten-piece opus that Ms. Bielawa must be justifiably proud of. The impact on the marvellous score is guaranteed to strike at the heart of the listener as few pieces of music are likely to." [FULL ARTICLE]
Raul da Gama

“[Bielawa is] fluent in the language of atonality, less concerned with accessibility than creating a unique soundscape that captures all the harshness, futility and passion of this brief escapade. … Baritone Jesse Blumberg imbues these songs with just the right balance of strength and fragility, while pianist Jocelyn Dueck tears ferociously into the piano parts.” [FULL ARTICLE]
Joanne Sydney Lessner