Various Artists

Winds and Voices

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This collection of late-20th century American compositions focuses on short pieces for either wind instruments, voice, or both. Featured composers are: Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, Joe L. Alexander, Carlos Delgado, Rusty Banks, and Dorothy E. Hindman. Interpretations and recording circumstances vary. Worth pointing out is Appledorn's "Incantations," a cycle of four pieces for oboe and piano. The "In Memoriam" is particularly touching, thanks to an intelligent use of microtonality. Another good moment is provided by Hindman's "Three Songs of Reminiscence," very delicate contemporary lieders topped by the "Aria," a humorous operetta-like Italian song ridiculing a few clichés about the Three Tenors and pizza. Tenor David Smith does an excellent job here. One cannot say the same about soprano Deborah Norin-Kuehn in Alexander's "Two Bryant Songs." Her unconvincing performance does not do justice to these nice (if not particularly original) settings of William Cullen Bryant's poems. Appledorn's other contribution, the triptych "Songs Without Words" for two sopranos and piano, could have been this disc's gem, but the sound quality, fine elsewhere, here drops below acceptable limits, enough to alter the listener's appreciation. Winds and Voices is not fully satisfying, but it has its moments. Living Artist Recordings have issued better albums.

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