Exhilaration: Dickinson and Yeats Songs by GREGG KALLOR [TrackList below] – Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano/ Gregg Kallor, piano – Gregg Kallor Music

by | Oct 1, 2010 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Exhilaration: Dickinson and Yeats Songs by GREGG KALLOR [TrackList below] – Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano/ Gregg Kallor, piano – Gregg Kallor Music 50020, 43:25 (greggkallor.com) ***1/2:

32-year-old Cleveland native Gregg Kallor has a background that bespeaks of many influences; jazz, classical, and rock—one hears this in the music, which I feel is rather schizophrenic in that it can’t quite decide what it wants to be. This is not necessarily bad, as Bernstein, Rorem, many superimposed jazz chords and even a dash of the smoky environs of the torch singer in a cocktail lounge grace his musical stew. And an eclectic ambiance has become almost a mandatory American stylistic trait these days, with some composers using it as a mask to hide a lack of talent, while others let it flow from themselves with an easygoing passion and naturalness that brings some great music to the fore. I don’t think Kallor insincere at all, and though he is not quite there yet he certainly could be soon.

Of course eclecticism has a downside as well, and there are pieces on this disc that seem to draw too liberally from the same sources, making for a sameness of approach that cries out for some more variance. Perhaps a little more attention to the song’s craft and less to the improvisatory feel of many of these songs would do the trick. But then one runs into a song like A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety with its renaissance sounding structure and baroque melody, and we see a real talent at work. And his flexible and wise motivic foundation in Exhilaration – is within – is a marvel of economy of means while letting the text drive the music in a memorable song. The last piece, Lullaby is a simple and marvelously straightforward piece that needs little adornment.

This is a vanity issue, something more and more classical and jazz artists are resorting to these days out of necessity. Adriana Zabala is quietly making a name for herself, according to her website appearing in a lot of operas in secondary roles—that should not last too long, and some breakouts are happening for her. Her voice is a rich and secure mezzo with excellent range and no discernable faults. More importantly she seems to have the style down for these songs, and sings them with evident relish. Sound is close but resonant. Recommended to the adventurous with the comment that this might be a fellow to look out for.

TrackList:

   1. Song  (poem by Christina Rossetti)

      Yeats Songs (poems by William Butler Yeats) =
   2. Ribh in Ecstasy
   3. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
   4. A Coat
   5. The Lady’s First Song
   6. A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety

      Exhilaration (poems by Emily Dickinson) =
   7. Exhilaration is the Breeze
   8. It bloomed and dropt, a Single Noon –
   9. Bee! I’m expecting you!
  10. We Cover Thee – Sweet Face –
  11. Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
  12. What Inn is this
  13. I should not dare to leave my friend
  14. Still own thee – still thou art –
  15. Exhilaration – is within –

  16. Lullaby

— Steven Ritter

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