Song Cycles and Piano Music by Gwyneth Walker
Michelle Areyzaga, soprano; Jamie Shaak, piano
Though Love be a Day
songs on poems by e.e. cummings & Gwyneth Walker
1. thy fingers make early flowers
2. lily has a rose
3. after All White Horses Are In Bed
4. maggie and milly and molly and may
6. Rhythms of the North Country- piano solo
songs on poems by May Swenson
7. Women Should Be Pedestals
8. Mornings Innocent
9. In Autumn
10. I Will Be Earth
11. Semplice- piano solo
The Sun is Love
songs based on poems by Jelaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
12. Circling the Sun
15. The Sunrise Ruby
17. A Waterbird (Flying Into The Sun)
2005 ~ Proteus 0015
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga and pianist Jamie Shaak deliver performances of stunning beauty, clarity, and eloquence. Ms. Areyzaga’s voice has a luminous radiance from top to bottom, and she deploys that sound with elegant ease in even the most taxing of these songs. Beyond the exquisite sound she produces, the soprano also has a limitless palette of emotional and expressive colors and inflections from which she draws. One seldom encounters singing that is this richly communicative yet so unfailingly lovely. ”
—Gregory Berg – NATS: The Listener’s Gallery
Sunny days for Aurora soprano
If you enjoy the direction that contemporary American music is going these days you are probably familiar with the music of Gwyneth Walker, who has written over 130 commissioned works for orchestra, band, chorus and chamber ensembles. Michelle Areyzaga, soprano, is a champion of modern music and has presented the songs on this CD over WFMT. Areyzaga was the first singer to present Walker’s The Sun is Love in 2002. which is the last group of songs on the album.
All the songs in the album are based on the poetry of e. e. Cummings, Mary Swenson, and Jelaluddin Rumi.
Areyzaga sings opera at such spots as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre and Light Opera Works and has appeared with the Grant Park Symphony. She has been the soloist in a recent Lord Nelson Mass with the orchestra of London’s Royal Academy of Music and the St. Charles Singers. Areyzaga can cast her voice two ways singing in both a classical and popular style which is no easy feat.
Winter nights are a perfect setting for listening to these intimate songs and Areyzaga has just the right kind of songstress voice to communicate the magic of each offering. The poetry is as pleasing as the music. “I would love to kiss you. The price of kissing is your life”.
—Jim Edwards – Sun-Times News Group
“This album’s appeal owes much to the singing of Michelle Areyzaga, who has a sweet, unaffected voice and meticulous diction just right for these appealing tunes.”
—Sullivan – American Record Guide
“***** Genuine honesty
This is an outstanding CD. Walker’s music is beautiful in itself, and it is performed with such honesty by this soprano Michelle Areyzaga and her collaborator Jamie Shaak.
I especially loved The Sunrise Ruby. Ms. Areyzaga’s vocal technique is flawless. She creates a sonic world that transports the listener. Her phrases intend to illuminate the music, and she uses the sheer beauty of her voice not to glorify herself but to express.
I am a real fan of Gwyneth Walker’s choral music. She has the same human sensitivity as she approaches solo literature. The sound always created to express something about what it is to live this human life.
Bravi Tutti! Highly recommended! ”
“***** Enriching and delightful!
I find myself continually listening to this CD, it has such grace and richness. Gwyneth Walker is a remarkable composer. She is extremely innovative and creative with her compositions especially with my favorite piece on the album “Rhythms of the North Country. Jamie Shaak is an accomplished and talented pianist. Her flow and timing is absolutely mesmerizing! The voice of Michelle Areyzaga has crystal clarity and she is a gorgeous soprano. Both Ms. Shaak and Areyzaga have terrific synergy which comes through on this album. If you want something that is soothing and interesting I highly recommend purchasing this album!! ”
“I don’t know how often it is that one gets to review new music by one’s neighbor, but I’ve been given that opportunity. Gwyneth Walker — composer, Brown University and Hartt School of Music grad, and now Vermont dairy farmer — lives less than an hour away from me, so I was looking forward to hearing contemporary classical songs from one of my home state’s adopted daughters.
The song cycles on this CD are based on carefully chosen poems by e.e. cummings, Ms. Walker, May Swenson, and Jelaluddin Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks), and are performed by soprano Michelle Areyzaga and pianist Jamie Shaak. This disc features musical numbers that have the feel of classical arias and a folksong influence that, when mixed together, create something that’s quite intoxicating.
Ms. Areyzaga’s voice floats above the piano, weaving in and out of the songs/poems, always drawing the listener in. Ms. Shaak’s piano accompaniment is superbly rendered — there when needed, yet still a part of the proceedings when allowing the singer space.
The recording of this Proteus Entertainment CD was handled well. The piano sounds real, with good tone and size. The voice is rendered properly, but it lacks that final bit of three-dimensionality (that SACD does so easily) to be totally believable as anything but a recording.”
—John Crossett – soundstage.com
“Michelle Areyzaga has been praised for her ravishing soprano in opera and song and Jamie Shaak’s piano artistry has been heard at the Kennedy Center and at Lincoln Center in New York.
This recording is a labor of love, as these two peerless artists team up to introduce a wider audience to the music of one of America’s most gifted composers.
Already well known for her choral settings, Gwyneth Walker here breaks new ground in these sensitive and lavish renderings for soprano and piano. The quality of Ms. Walker’s piano music is further highlighted in two original and fascinating piano solos.”