(In) Habitation – Musical Settings of Margaret Atwood’s Poetry by American Women Composers
Judith CLOUD (b.1954) Night Dreams (2006) [16:09]
Elisenda FÁBREGAS (b.1955) Moments of Change (2004) [16:26]
Amanda HARBERG (b.1973) Memory, from Midnight Songs (2006) [4:13]
Lori LAITMAN (b.1955) Orange Afternoon Lover (2006) [13:00]
Libby LARSEN (b.1950) Take (2006) [3:15]
Tania LÉON (b.1943) Atwood Songs (2007) [13:37]
Eileen Strempel (soprano); Sylvie Beaudette (piano)
rec. 14-16 June and 16-18 August 2007, Patrych Sound Studios, New York City. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 3002 [63:29]
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Why do record companies issue disks incorporating the words Women Composers? Surely just the word composer is good enough? That the composers happen to be women is of no consequence whatsoever. One might comment that the music of female composers is different to that of their male counterparts. It is. But Beethoven’s music is different to that of Stockhausen and we never refer to them as male composers. This ghetto–ising of these six composers is ridiculous. And if it’s so important why didn’t Centaur go further and call the CD Musical Settings of Margaret Atwood Poetry by American Women Composers performed and commissioned by Two Other American Women Musicians? Whilst I have no time for today’s ludicrous insistence on political correctness I do feel that equality between the sexes is important. It’s time titles such as this were a thing of the past. It’s infantile.
It also disguises the fact that here are some fine songs – no matter who wrote them. Indeed, for female composers they’re pretty good! That’s a male joke. But I do have one problem: Eileen Strempel. Ms Strempel employs a quick vibrato on every note and the ear tires very quickly of the sound. She also fails to display any variety of timbre or emotional feeling for the music she is singing. Everything is the same, sounds the same, is identical but I can tell, even from these performances, that there is some good music in there. A much more sympathetic singer, with a much wider interpretive range, is required to undertake this kind of varied recital.
I couldn’t sit through the whole CD because of the singing. Even for the sake of the women composers. I know that I have let them down but so has this disk. Under no circumstances can I recommend this disk for the performances spoil what might be, but I may never know, a very special musical experience.
Bob Briggs
I couldn’t sit through the whole CD