HERE/AFTER: Songs of Lost Voices
by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

2CD-set from PentaTone Classics
Release date: October 21

Featuring Talise Trevigne, soprano; Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano; Stephen Costello, tenor; Nathan Gunn, baritone; Carol Wincenc, flute; and the Alexander String Quartet

Here/After: Songs of Lost Voices gives voice to those no longer with us, including Camille Claudel, Francis Poulenc, Wanda Landowska, Pierre Bernac and Paul Eluard. It also pays tribute to the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Here/After is a double play on the spiritual hereafter that their voices are still here even though their bodies are gone.

The piece is riveting from start to finish, composed for the 30th anniversary of the Alexander String Quartet, and for Joyce DiDonato, whose singing is simply ravishing, some of the best I have ever heard from her vast recorded legacy. The music for the quartet has flavors of Debussy’s own work for that medium, and the rhythmic elements and hearty tonal melodic contours make for an enthralling experience that must be heard.” ~ Steven Ritter Audiophile November 2013

“Written for mezzo-soprano and string quartet, Camille Claudel – Into the Fire recalls the day on which the French sculptor and muse of the better-known Auguste Rodin was confined to the Ville-Évrard asylum.  Mr. Scheer’s poetry movingly conveys the uncanny lucidity of Claudel’s insanity as she takes leave of sculptures in her studio, and Mr. Heggie provides melodic lines that dig into the nuances of the language with sounds that are both unmistakably modern and mildly suggestive of the tonal world of Debussy, with whom Claudel was erroneously rumored to have shared a liaison.  Mr. Heggie pays homage to Ms. DiDonato’s consummate mastery of Baroque and bel canto repertories by giving her coloratura passages and even a trill—which, as hardly needs to be articulated, she delivers with a display of technique so remarkable that these feats sound no more difficult than breathing.  More importantly, Mr. Heggie gives Ms. DiDonato music that calls upon every shimmering color in her voice, inspiring her to a performance of touching restraint and impeccable vocal warmth.  There is something very moving about hearing this great singer voice lines like ‘Last night, I went to sleep completely naked, / I pretended you were holding me’ in ‘Prelude; Rodin’ and ‘I understand. / I must be very still. / Thank you for remembering me’ in ‘Epilogue: Jessie Lipscomb visits Camille Claudel, Montdevergues Asylum, 1929.’  Memorable as Ms. DiDonato’s performances in the world’s opera houses are, her singing in Camille Claudel – Into the Fire is truly unforgettable.

It was usual for composers of Ms. DiDonato’s typical repertory to write specifically for the abilities of individual singers, but 21st-Century composers mostly compose generic vocal lines with ambitions of hearing their music sung as frequently as possible.  Camille Claudel – Into the Fire will surely resound with the unique qualities of many different voices in future, but Ms. DiDonato gives a performance that, like the sentiments of which she sings, is for the ages.” ~ Joseph Newsome Voix des Arts November 2013

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Composer Jake Heggie, Poet Gene Scheer, The Alexander String Quartet, and the recording team at the end of this exhilarating recording.

Composer Jake Heggie, Poet Gene Scheer, The Alexander String Quartet, and the recording team at the end of this exhilarating recording.

Album info

Release date: October 21, 2013
Number of Discs: 2
Format: Hybrid SACD – DSD
Label: Pentatone