Do You Dream in Color? = RODRIGO: Six Songs; FAURE: Four Songs; BRUCE ADOLPHE: Do You Dream in Color?; NOAM SIVAN: n the Mountains of Jerusalem – Laurie Rubin, mezzo-sop./ Marija Stroke & Noam Sivan, piano – Bridge 9364, 67:01 [Distr. by Albany] *****:
Laurie Rubin is blind. Good—that’s out of the way. Not that it matters, as there have been other blind singers before, and if Beethoven did what he did while deaf, everything else seems but paltry stuff to me. But on the other hand it is a big deal to Rubin, who wrote the poem on which the title piece is based (and a book by the same title) that attempts to show some of her experiences of life with the senses she has—and yes, she does dream in color. Ultimately, once we get beyond all of this stuff, as important/interesting as it is/might be, we still need to like the music, and so the question of its likeability proves paramount. And yes, once again, the music is likeable, and in fact is quite attractive; Mr. Adolphe’s sensibilities to Rubin’s script quite perspective and aurally enticing.
In the Mountains of Jerusalem, a work that has great meaning for Rubin because she is Jewish, is a cycle of four songs about love in varied forms that are left to the listener to discern, and the work was also written for Rubin with her voice in mind, range, tonal coloring, and expressive capabilities (which are considerable). The piece ends the disc with an intense and exploitative rumination on fulfillment, void, and the struggle of being human.
The Rodrigo selections are resonant of his hothouse approach to singing, beautiful miniatures that are explosive capsules of simple melodies and deceptively complex harmonies. To bring the blindness back into the light, the composer was blind also, the reason for his inclusion here, as the notes admit.
To return to the idea of colors in all their vividness, the songs by Faure are included. One can hardly think of a more colorful composer, whose subtle hues blend in with light, airy melodies that fit so naturally to any voice worthy of them, and also knowing how not to approach them with over-affectation.
Rubin has a voice of deliriously rich coloration, a broad range, pure tone, technical acuity, and a rare sensibility of how to approach a text within the context of a given style. Her communicative abilities are second to none, and I look forward to hearing more of her aside from the obvious connection to her disability—it certainly hasn’t gotten in the way of her artistry. This is an album well worth hearing.
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