The contents of this release appear at first glance, and even after closer inspection, to have little in the way of a unifying theme, except that all the works are by either U.S. or Canadian composers and have an essentially lyrical character. In the notes, composer Malcolm Bruno gamely tries to tease out other commonalities: the works all relate to childhood (except for James D'Angelo's The Loves of Krishna and The Dance of Krishna, and Bernstein's La Bonne Cuisine), or all are by composers whose musical lineage can be traced directly back to Nadia Boulanger (except Libby Larsen), or they all include the voice (except D'Angelo's Krishna pieces, for recorders and piano). Nonetheless, it is a lovely collection, both in its individual works and as a totality. The American Boychoir, led by James Litton, is prominently featured, and sings with spirit and pure tone, but the clipped precision of the singers' accents makes them sound more British than American, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just odd, especially in Copland's Old American Songs. Soprano Patricia Petibon is absolutely radiant and delightful in the album's many selections in French -- Barber's Mélodies passagères, Bruno's Trois Noëls Québécois, and Bernstein's La Bonne Cuisine -- as well as in Dello Joio's A Jubilant Song, and mezzo-soprano Catherine King is equally effective in songs by Barber and Bruno. The sound is mostly good -- clean and bright -- but sometimes initial consonants come across as distractingly explosive.
Fast Cats and Mysterious Cows Review
by Stephen Eddins