Will Liverman – Dreams of a New Day – Songs by Black Composers (2021) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Will Liverman – Dreams of a New Day – Songs by Black Composers (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:00:38 minutes | 1,08 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Cedille

Baritone Will Liverman describes his album Dreams of a New Day as a passion project, which indeed it may be, but that description undersells his accomplishment. This album is a collection of art songs by African American composers, a field where it is often the same few pieces that get performed. Liverman does sing the Three Dream Portraits of Margaret Bonds, setting texts by Langston Hughes, and these have shown up fairly often on programs by Black artists. However, much of the rest of the program is revelatory, tracing the interchange between African American composition and poetry. Composer Robert Owens, who spent most of his career in Germany, also draws on Hughes, while Thomas Kerr’s Riding to Town sets a poem by the highly music-ready Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and one of the two new songs by Shawn E. Okpebholo, marking the impact of terrorist attacks in Birmingham and Charleston on African American life, uses a text by Dudley Randall. Liverman’s performance of five songs by Harry T. Burleigh is especially valuable; this figure is known mostly for his encounter with Antonín Dvořák and his influential settings of African American spirituals, but he wrote some 200 works in a variety of genres, and most have very rarely been heard. The “Laurence Hope” responsible for the texts of the five Burleigh songs here was actually a British woman, Adela Florence Nicolson, who lived in India with her father and then her husband and took inspiration from Indian life. Burleigh’s settings, composed in 1915, are in no way conservative or derivative; they may well have been featured on song programs of the time, but they were subsequently forgotten, and Liverman’s performances open up all kinds of questions about what kind of texts Burleigh decided to set and how he functioned within the world of white art music. The program is rounded out by other powerful songs, including an arrangement of a folk song by Richard Fariña, who was not African American. None of the pieces directly uses material from African American spirituals, but one of the many strengths of Liverman’s readings is that he catches the inflections from spirituals that populate many of these songs and add to their power. Accompanist Paul Sánchez is adept in handling the range of expression here, and singer and pianist operate as a unit. The commercial success of this release on the Cedille label is not remarkable, for the album is both compelling and groundbreaking.

Tracklist

1. Will Liverman – I Dream a World
2. Will Liverman – No. 1, Worth While
3. Will Liverman – No. 2, The Jungle Flower
4. Will Liverman – No. 3, Kashmiri Song
5. Will Liverman – No. 4, Among the Fuchsias
6. Will Liverman – No. 5, Till I Wake
7. Will Liverman – Amazing Grace
8. Will Liverman – No. 1, Minstrel Man
9. Will Liverman – No. 2, Dream Variation
10. Will Liverman – No. 3, I, Too
11. Will Liverman – Riding to Town
12. Will Liverman – No. 1, Ballad of Birmingham
13. Will Liverman – No. 2, The Rain
14. Will Liverman – No. 1, A House in Taos
15. Will Liverman – No. 2, Little Song
16. Will Liverman – No. 3, Jaime
17. Will Liverman – No. 4, Faithful One
18. Will Liverman – No. 5, Genius Child
19. Will Liverman – Birmingham Sunday (Arr. for Voice & Piano)

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