The Mirror Visions Ensemble

Cosmic & Domestic Matters

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Connecticut-based Mirror Visions Ensemble performs programs of vocal music closely linked to a specific historical or biographical situation. this inventive disc juxtaposes settings of texts dating from the middle of the nineteenth century in America: letters (of a personal nature, but still with his utterly distinctive voice) of Abraham Lincoln, letters from wives of Civil War soldiers to their husbands, and poetry of Walt Whitman. Russell Platt's From Noon to Starry Night: A Walt Whitman Cantata is the standout work here, with an eclectic mix of styles one imagines Whitman himself might have applauded. There are Ivesian passages with cosmic overtones, trios reminiscent of the family harmony groups that spearheaded the Abolition movement, lighter melodies suggesting Stephen Foster and the Italian operas that American audiences knew well, and spoken passages, all cohering into a larger whole. Turning letters into songs often results in a schematic quality that the other two composers don't always escape, but all the performances are clearly intelligible, even without the texts printed in the booklet, and dramatically convincing. Any one of these works could be useful in mixed-media presentations dealing with American history of the Civil War era, and the conception of the entire project as a vehicle for the exposure of contemporary compositions is noteworthy.

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