Magazine article Gramophone

Schneider: Winter Morning Walks

Magazine article Gramophone

Schneider: Winter Morning Walks

Article excerpt

Schneider

Winter Morning Walks (a). Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories (b) Dawn Upshaw sop (a) Jay Anderson bass (a) Scott Robinson cls (a) Frank Kimbrough pf (a) Australian Chamber Orchestra; (b) St Paul Chamber Orchestra / Maria Schneider

ArtistShare (F) AS0121 (52' * DDD)

Upshaw sings songs by jazz-schooled Maria Schneider

Without reading the booklet-notes by composer Maria Schneider and soprano Dawn Upshaw, you know that life beyond tragedy is celebrated in these elegiac song-cycles, especially Winter Morning Walks. The Ted Kooser poems were written in the thick of cancer recovery with observations (sometimes ecstatic, other times just quietly grateful) of the bleak landscape around him as sung by Upshaw (herself a cancer survivor) with her newly darkened lower range to match similar qualities in the music. Upshaw has always known exactly what to do with every phrase she sings--a quality even more appreciated in works where Schneider, best known for composing and arranging orchestral jazz, seems be speaking a second language, though speaking it earnestly enough that you might not notice how deftly she departs from traditional song forms.

In the piece's best moments, Schneider harnesses the power of poetic spareness; the opening, for example, has a few piano notes, quietly dissonant underpinning in the strings and a harmonically independent vocal line, all of which keep the words airborne while letting them speak for themselves. …

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