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Knoxville-Summer of 1915 [Classical, Import, CD]

Dawn Upshaw Audio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.80 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Details

1. Knoxville: Summer Of 1915
2. The Old Maid And the Thief: Act I, Scene 6: What A Curse For A Woman Is A Timid Man
3. Mirabai Songs: I. It's True, I Went To The Market
4. Mirabai Songs: II. All I Was Doing Was Breathing
5. Mirabai Songs: III. Why Mira Can't Go Back To Her Old House
6. Mirabai Songs: IV. Where Did You Go?
7. Mirabai Songs: V. The Clouds
8. Mirabai Songs: VI. Don't Go, Don't Go
9. The Rake's Progress: Act I, Scene 3: No Word From Tom

Product Description


Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is a setting of a lovely chunk of prose text by James Agee describing an evening from his childhood. An accomplished singer himself, Barber's vocal writing is expert, and this work must rank as one of the finest examples of the art of word-setting in any language. Barber perfectly captures the conversational quality of the text, while at the same time clothing the words in an atmosphere of gentle nostalgia. It's a masterpiece that Dawn Upshaw sings with keen insight and lovely tone. The remainder of the program is creatively chosen as well, making this one of the finest vocal recitals available by an American singer. --David Hurwitz

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Barber alone is worth five stars Jan. 15 2004
Format:Audio CD
People are always saying that they find a particular piece of music is "haunting." For me Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" is such a work. Dawn Upshaw's reading of this great American masterwork is the best I have yet heard. She won her first Grammy Award for this recording - and deservedly so. If you're a fan of either Upshaw or Barber you'll want to add this beautiful CD to your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dawn Upshaw, vocal actress extraordinaire Jan. 1 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This is the CD that made me fall in love with Dawn Upshaw's singing. I had heard her before and admired her work, but this disc made me a real fan. As it's one of her early recordings, her voice is somewhat "fuller" than on later work; she later started moving the voice "forward," simplifying the sound. Either way, her immense talent for communicating the essence of the text is the outstanding aspect of all her work. It's amazing how she can sound angry, desperate, hopeful, melancholic, all while producing a beautiful sound and tackling all the vocal challenges of the music she's singing. She inhabits the characters, the narrators, of each of the pieces on this disc, and makes it more than just a collection of songs or arias.
I want to make special mention of the Harbison _Mirabai Songs_, as it seems to have been maligned somewhat in other reviews here. This was the work that most kept me coming back to this disc when I first bought it. I think it is a masterpiece, and one of Harbison's best and most important works. (Apparently I'm not alone in my admiration of the piece, because I've heard it on a number of live concerts in recent years, so it seems to be having a successful performance life.) Harbison's song cycle is by turns exciting, sensual, driving, longing, beautiful. The orchestration for the small ensemble is masterful (as Harbison's efforts at scoring always are), and Upshaw expresses all of Mirabai's complex emotions enchantingly.
The _Rake's Progress_ aria also deserves individual comment. In this engrossing example of Stravinsky's neoclassical style, Upshaw assumes Anne's air of fierce determination, and brings the disc to an absolutely thrilling climax on a concluding high C.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The pleasures of Upshaw! Aug. 29 2000
Format:Audio CD
Here's a superlative recording, as are each of the recordings by Dawn Upshaw. Barber's exquisite cycle is the centerpiece, and Upshaw sings it with youthful ease, a hallmark of her recorded legacy. It's a version of the piece that easily tops the others of note. I agree with another of the reviewer's assessment of Steber, she could indeed 'size down the house', something requisite with the Barber- I even prefer her song repertoire to her operas, although "Vanessa" is an exception to that, but her understanding of "Knoxville" isn't modern enough. It's modern, but almost against the fact. Because of that youthful ease, Upshaw acquires a regal transparency in this cycle. I've not heard another rendition like it. Like Berlioz' "Les Nuits d'ete", "Knoxville" inhabits a category unto itself as a song cycle. The piece itself is autumn-wordly, melancholic, with magisterial orchestration magically conjured here by Zinman and St. Luke's. What a sound this ensemble has, an innate clean-space sound free of ego. I admire them tremendously. The Menotti is a hoot! Dawn's singing is so present-in-the-sound, it really is a marvel. She possesses uncanny musicianship for a singer, and is a generous singer, obviously happy with chamber music intimacy. The Harbison is interesting, it's very Upshaw-esque. I've heard other Harbison that is more interesting. The Stravinsky is the weakest bit, in my view. Well done, I suppose, but peculiarly not convincing. But this is a first-rate disc to treasure.
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3.0 out of 5 stars UPSHAW AND BARBER June 20 2000
Format:Audio CD
Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" is one of my favorite pieces of vocal music. Barber's musical setting is incredibly evocative of the lovely words by James Agee from the prologue to his novel, "A Death in the Family" which became the play and subsequent film, "All The Way Home." The music was written for soprano, Eleanor Steber, and if you can find her recording (I have it on an out of print Sony Masterworks Portrait CD) it is worth the search. Also on the Steber disc are other Barber vocal pieces sung by the likes of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Leontyne Price and Martina Arroyo: not too shabby a group! That said, the Upshaw disc is perfectly fine. Her voice sounds pure and sweet and very youthful which is perfect for the narrator's voice-in the novel it is a man remembering his childhood. Why not 5***** then? I truly dislike most of the other music on this disc. Both the Menotti and the Stravinsky arias do not excerpt well and the Harbison is minor stuff, to be sure.
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4.0 out of 5 stars American classic in its own time March 4 2001
Format:Audio CD
One has to be full of admiration for the efforts of Ms. Upshaw to use her talent to promote "modern" classical music. Sometimes it works fantastically as the Barber piece in this recording, sometimes the results are uneven, no fault of Ms Uspshaw, as in Mirabai songs here too. Barber's Knoxville: summer of 1915 is a very intriguing piece. Prose set to music. It works very well but one wonders how did that ever happen. Here Ms. Uspshaw makes us stop wondering and just relax and enjoy it. The mark of great artistry. And the intelligence of Mr. Zinman in understanding the modern musical language has to be commended. A great team. Too bad that one has to take off a star since the choices of works for this CD is not the best and somewhat detract from each other. Yet, just for the Barber and Stravinsy pieces, this is a must have CD.
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