Jeffrey Dooley / Kathryn Cok

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts: Songs of Stephen C. Foster

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As the liner notes point out, Stephen Foster's songs have been performed in numerous anachronistic styles, including bluegrass, opera, and jazz. So why not have them sung by a countertenor, accompanied in baroque style by a harpsichord? Well, there are a couple of good reasons. The first is that the harpsichord just sounds ridiculous playing the oompah rhythms of Foster' s "Soiree Polka" and the ponderous merry-go-round melody "Santa Anna's Retreat from Buena Vista." The second is that a countertenor sounds even more ridiculous delivering lines like "They hunt no more for the possum and the coon" and, heaven knows, "I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair." Dooley's intonation problems don't help, either. This was an interesting idea, but at some point during the sessions someone should have realized what was happening and had the courage to call it off.

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