REVIEWS

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

New York Concert Review (December 29, 2005)
André Gauthier writes:

The program began with William Bolcom’s Cabaret Songs, sung by Michelle Murray (soprano) and David Murray, pianist….  Making the cycle a verifiable “cabaret” feast was the singing of Ms. Murray.  Her musicality and intonation were first rate and she puts this music across with an engaging and authentic Broadway style.  Mr. Murray made a perfect collaborator.

BBC Music Magazine (November 2003)
Roger Thomas writes:

There are areas of the repertoire which quite naturally occupy the territory between classical music and jazz. One such area is cabaret music. I'd include here the songs of Kurt Weill, as likely to be sung by a jazz vocalist as a classical recitalist, and also the remarkable cabaret songs of William Bolcom, former student of Messiaen and an appreciator of Gershwin, who sets texts by Arnold Weinstein. Anyone who enjoys the more demanding kind of jazz singing and/or appreciates, say, the songs of Samuel Barber will find Michelle and David Murray's Blue to be a natural extension of either.

Ken Lafave of the Arizona Republic writes (19 July 2003):

Art song is made of snapshots and crumpled slips of paper. The grandiose is invited, but must learn to control its rhetoric in close quarters. Nonsense is admissible; common sense is not.

Whether it's Schubert's doomed trout or Poulenc's desire to smoke cigarettes all day, the subject of song wanders the edge of literal meaning. No lessons, please. Only feelings.

We say this by way of introducing the Arizona Republic-KBAQ Classical CD of the Week, Blue: The Complete Cabaret Songs of William Bolcom and Arnold Weinstein. These are art songs by another name, tiny moments of life in word and music, for voice and piano. The "cabaret" moniker owes to the jazzy-pop inflections of Bolcom's musical language and the sexy topics of Weinstein's poems.

Valley soprano Michelle Murray brings heat and soul to these two dozen minimasterpieces. Singers without appetite for what they sing are merely specters, but Murray is alive and full-blooded, ravenous for Bolcom's sliding melodies and Weinstein's slashing words. When she sings of Toothbrush Time - that moment, midmorning, when the lover you brought home the night before is in the bathroom and you wonder what the heck you were thinking - she is completely in the scene, modulating fleetly from shock to mild disgust to interest renewed almost against her will.

The pianist David Murray is her nimble, expressive, hand-in-glove accompanist. The title track is a whorl of embracing harmonies, the Song of Black Max (the most performed of the set) is a spiky thriller. Everywhere in the disc the Murrays, effortlessly musical, bring to vivid life a world where existence brings together such disparities as confound the observer:

"Two pacifist brothers are having a fight,

A wife's getting loose because her husband is tight."

Curiously, given that Bolcom is a major composer and Pulitzer Prize winner, this is the first compact disc to include all 24 of his cabaret songs. It was worth the wait.

Also, click here for the KBAQ Interview with the Artists.

MY VIDEOS

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Cantarcillo
Eduardo Toldra
Soloist: Michelle Murray Fiertek, Pianist: Stephen Scarlato

Cantarcillo   Eduardo Toldra Soloist: Michelle Murray Fiertek, Pianist: Stephen Scarlato
Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion
George Frideric Handel
Soloist: Michelle Murray Fiertek, Orchestra: Waterbury Symphony Orchestra

Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion   George Frideric Handel Soloist: Michelle Murray Fiertek, Orchestra: Waterbury Symphony Orchestra

“Exemplary.”

…BBC Music Magazine