This cycle of brief songs to evocative, disturbing and ironically humorous texts by the American Beat poet Gregory Corso makes a fine contribution to the recital repertory. Highly entertaining and full of variety, the songs are especially well tailored to the needs of the singer. The composer has special experience in this field through his many concerts with his sister Meriel, for whom these songs are written. The composer’s interpretative as well as technical gifts are displayed fully, and the cycle is most enjoyable for all concerned. Wit and flexibility abound in the idiomatic writing for both voice and piano, and there is no chance of an audience’s attention wandering. The moods change quickly; every detail counts in music of such conciseness; at times it is reminiscent of Webern’s music in its precision and understatement. The singer is fully occupied with a constant parade of interesting vocal tasks and musical delights which are closely linked to the twists and sardonic flashes of dry humour in the text. The vocal part is wide ranging and well-placed clarity of intonation will be necessary. Immaculate diction (a strong feature of Meriel Dickinson’s work) is a prime essential. The word-setting is splendidly judged and the whole effect is one of great sensitivity and natural flair. The composer’s light touch and considerable expertise in many styles serve him well here in a basically atonal idiom. This cycle should be warmly welcomed as an antidote to heavier fare and a most pleasing showpiece for stylish performers with a disciplined technique.
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