The Life Before Us (digital download)
THE LIFE BEFORE US
Allan Crossman & John G. Bilotta
Bearing musical witness to the versatile talents of two acclaimed northern California-based composers, THE LIFE BEFORE US combines works from John G. Bilotta and Allan Crossman.
Bilotta’s cycle of Yeats Songs, performed by baritone Andrew R. White, highlights five of the poet’s shorter lyrics in predominantly bi-tonal or atonal settings. His collection of Renaissance Songs is based on the work of several Elizabethan poets, including John Donne and Thomas Lodge (whose poem “Rosalynde” was the source of Shakespeare’s As You Like It). They’re brilliantly delivered by tenor Justin Marsh.
Bilotta draws on two American poets, Carl Sandburg and Edna St. Vincent Millay, for “Lost” and “Prayer to Persephone,” two songs united by a single poetic theme and elegantly performed by soprano Cass Panuska accompanied by pianist Hadley McCarroll, who are also featured on The Hippocampus’ Monologue, the closing aria from the first act of Bilotta’s opera Rosetta’s Stone.
Allan Crossman’s ten songs on THE LIFE BEFORE US include four inspired by the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca and an international array of others: from Ireland (James Joyce), Germany (Hermann Claudius and Ricarda Huch), Russia (Alexander Scriabin), and America (Louis Phillips), performed by mezzo-soprano Megan Stetson and bass Richard Mix, with the composer himself at the piano.
Crossman’s three-movement Sonata fLux, with pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi, flows from the energetic “Moto Atlantico” through the vibrating “fLight of the Firefly” to the swirling fluidity of “Rondo a Pollock” - inspired, as its title suggests, by Jackson Pollock’s ‘action painting’ technique - and brings the eclectic program to an impressive conclusion.