Orchestral SongsAmerican Orchestral Song

Patrick Mason, baritone

Bridge Records

The Odense Symphony Orchestra with Paul Mann, conductor
The Feast of Love, Virgil Thomson
Water-Colors, John Alden Carpenter
Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun, Roy Harris
Five Poems of Ancient China & Japan, Charles T. Griffes
Chahí¡l Mí³r of the Wine-Red Hand, Horatio Parker

Patrick Mason and the Odense Symphony Orchestra have recorded some real gems here. These pieces are lesser-known if not totally unknown works which exude pure American populism from the beginning of the 20th century. Mason’s voice is light but rich and each work perfectly frames his lyrical gifts. The orchestra’s background is solid and supportive, not overshadowing the voice and still showcasing the intricate orchestrations of each piece.

The music is fairly typical fare for these composers. Thomson’s work is melodious with a wonderful jaunty groove while Carpenter’s work is pure American Impressionism with short, perfectly chiseled movements. The most modernist sound on the disc belongs to Roy Harris with wandering tonality and restless percussion. In today’s climate of abundant “East meets West” music, the pentatonic melodies in Griffes’ work sound rather dated. The five pieces are still quite charming works and I fear that if they had been composed nowadays they would have ended up too serious and painfully poetic instead of light and beautiful. Parker’s music, the earliest composed work on the CD (1893), is total, no holds barred, in your face Romaniticism. Nothing wrong with that.

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