ALSO ON NAVONA RECORDS
FULL FATHOM FIVE, the fifth offering in Navona Records’ The Shakespeare Concerts Series, takes the story of The Tempest, from the shipwrecked crew and magical spirits to the imprisoned servants and their questions of identity, and presents a variety of works from the 18th to the 21st centuries that set texts and depict themes from Shakespeare’s play.
Regarding this collection, executive director and composer Joseph Summer says, “We are able to hear The Tempest from the very different perspective of six very different composers. As we do, we can hear their reflection on that sinking ship, on sojourners transformed from men to coral.” From the intense and dramatic imagery of Beethoven’s The Tempest to the angular arias of Stravinsky’s Three Songs from William Shakespeare to the sorrowful and swaying sounds of Ives’ A Sea Dirge, these works show the significant influence of The Tempest on composers of the past.
The contemporary works by Summer, from his collection of Shakespearean-themed music, Oxford Songs, explore themes about Ariel, the aerial spirit, as well as the self-conscious characters of Miranda and Caliban. Pieces by Summer, Tippett, Ives, and Stravinsky set text from Ariel’s famed “Full Fathom Five,” a lyrical and ironic song that acknowledges the sea-changes and turbulent themes present in The Tempest.
GODDESSES is the third offering in Navona Records' The Shakespeare Concerts Series, which presents several works by composer Joseph Summer from his collection of settings of Shakespearean scenes, sonnets, and soliloquies, Oxford Songs. These particular works are reflections on feminine divinity, from the literal - as in the triumvirate of Roman goddesses in the piece Honour, Riches, Marriage-Blessing - by way of the metaphorical - as exemplified by the depiction of women in the sonnets, In The Old Age Black Was Not Counted Fair and Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day - and to the figurative - contained in the idealized, eternal female characters of Juliet, Olivia, and Ophelia, respectively portrayed in the works, Gallop Apace You Fiery-Footed Steeds, If Music Be The Food of Love, and There Is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook. Summer's deep knowledge of Shakespeare's works and rich compositional technique produce a musical and literary experience that adds layers of insight to Shakespearean characters and themes.
THE FAIR OPHELIA, the second installment on Navona Records' The Shakespeare Concerts Series, features works by composer Joseph Summer that are inspired by Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark! With Shakespeare's texts accompanied with music by Brahms, Strauss, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, and Joseph Summer, this album for vocal and chamber music consists of diverse settings that present the listener with an opportunity to hear Ophelia in a three dimensional perspective. Summer's works have been described as "[varying] in mood and compositional technique from piece to piece, but always beautifully expressive and deeply emotional" (Shakespeare Matters).
SHAKESPEARE'S MEMORY is the first offering Navona's The Shakespeare Concerts Series. A salmagundi of selections from composer Joseph Summer's The Oxford Songs, this album includes previously unreleased recordings spanning the life of the series. This first volume includes Summer's original chamber and vocal compositions set to Shakespeare's dramas and sonnets and the poetry of Milton and Yeats, performed by a slew of musicians: the Kalmia String Quartet, baritone Chad Sloan, soprano Andrea Chenoweth, mezzo-soprano Kellie Van Horn, tenor Justin Vickers, pianists Miroslav Sekera and Ian Watson, and harpist Lydie Härtelovä.
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