Sunday, February 17, 2013

Do not eat that which rips your heart with joy

Barihunk Andrew Garland is a fine singer, mighty fine to look at, and also has a fine new CD, released quite recently. This handsome young lad has won hearts with his singing, acting, intelligent musicianship, and good looks on opera and concert stages all over this country. This quote from his web site tells it all:
Garland is best known for his highly communicative style of singing. Equally at home in opera, concert and recital, he brings to each genre a powerful voice and extremely sensitive delivery. On Mr. Garland’s presentation of Lee Hoiby’s I Was There, the composer commented: “I have performed these same songs with several professional baritones of stature, and none has brought more depth of musical understanding than did Andrew Garland. Quite apart from the special beauty of his voice is his distinctive feeling for the musical line. He pulls the listener irresistibly into the music. In my judgment, he is a rare talent, and I expect him to enjoy an important career.”
Mr. Garland's intelligent singing is evident everywhere on this CD, in songs by current American composers Jake Heggie, Lori Laitman, Stephen Paulus and Tom Cipullo.

I found great fun in some of these songs.  Ms. Laitman's set of four settings of poems by Thomas Lux, Men With Small Heads, gives us a view of the wonder and mystery of childhood. Relishing the optical illusion created when looking at people at a distance juxtaposed to your own hand very close ("Men With Small Heads"), or wondering what in the world those exotic looking, impossibly red maraschino cherries were doing in a refrigerator full of a perfectly boring food ("Refrigerator 1957", whence comes the title of this post), Mr. Garland created a picture with his voice and his skillful interpretation of the lyrics, just as Ms. Laitman's musical style for these proved wonderfully illustrative of either a child's attention span or his wonder or his fear.

I heard Jake Heggie's wonderful writing in the CD by Talise Trevigne of which I wrote so fondly last year. He does not disappoint with his settings of Vachel Lindsay poems entitled The Moon is a Mirror. All the songs are about different impressions of the moon--a miner, a child, an old horse. In "The Strength of the Lonely (What the Mendicant Said)", the moon is compared to monks, "...who all life’s flames defy", and having given up the world, in the end leave "...only the arching blue" behind. In "What the Forrester Said" the moon stands watch over children as an ever-present, unwavering candle flame, "Grandmothers guarding trundle beds/Good shepherds guarding sheep." This song in particular has a lyric, lullaby-like feel to it, which Mr. Garland brings out lovingly.

Of course I can't write about every song, but suffice it to say Mr. Garland sings them all with the same intelligence and beauty as in the few I describe. This CD belongs in the players and iTunes playlists of anyone who loves fin singing; new music, particularly songwriting; or handsome ginger singers. After all, everyone knows us redheads are the best singers!

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