Harolyn Blackwell – Strange Hurt
What Schubert’s Winterreise did for the 19th-century Romantic man, Maury Yeston has sought to do for the 20th-century romantic woman. December Songs are a “winter journey” in which a woman walks through a wintry cityscape mourning lost love and dreaming of warmer, better days. Composer and lyricist of Broadway hits Nine and Grand Hotel (and the American version of Phantom), Yeston is also an esteemed musicologist whose love for the classics brought him to create this soulful mixture of classical line and human commonplace when he was commissioned to write it for the Centennial celebration at Carnegie Hall. Harolyn Blackwell’s performance of December Songs brings the riches of the classical soprano to explore the full range of what one reviewer has called “a Rodgers and Hart musical for a cast of one.”
Ricky Ian Gordon, the composer of Genius Child writes:
The ten songs I have written for Harolyn Blackwell using the poems of Langston Hughes were inspired by Harolyn’s voice and spirit – and the naturalness of the poems – which lend themselves so easily to song. Musically, I would say the songs are definitely urban in sound, informed by simple, recognizable rhythms, and easy forms.
In a way, the “cycle” consists of one major element: watching. Watching the world go by, watching life happen, and in turn, the awakening of compassion, of spirituality, of joy.
Harolyn Blackwell, soprano
December Songs orchestrated and conducted by Jonathan Tunick
Genius Child: Warren Jones, piano