SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012
Magdalena Ball: Poetry Monday: the first of all my dreams
I've had Ellen Mandel's exquisite the first of all my dreams on an endless loop in my car. The CD is the most wonderful musical rendering of the poetry of ee cummings, W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Glyn Maxwell and some of Mandel's own work too. That kind of line up would be enough to entice me. However, Mandel has managed to enhance the beauty of the work through richly extraordinary musical compositions, and the most amazing vocals by tenor Todd Almond. You can read my full, detailed review of the CD at The Compulsive Reader. Then check out, just for example, the ee cummings poem "stinging gold": http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/10128/
and listen to what Mandel does with it here:http://www.ellenmandel.com/audio/TODD_ALMOND_AND-stinging_gol_hifi.m3u
You can check out more of her amazing work with tons of sample tracks at
http://www.ellenmandel.com/music.html. This is truly music for poetry lovers. Go, now, and get yourself a copy. You can thank me later.
Album liner notes: Inspired by the fun we had making our first album, A WIND HAS BLOWN THE RAIN AWAY, and by our pleasure in making music together, Todd Almond and I decided to record more of my songs-to-poems. We started with three new E.E. Cummings settings, among them this CD’s title song based on his beautiful “the first of all my dreams.”
Then we expanded to other poets and lyricists. I composed “Sleep” and “Human Beings Suffer,” with words by Nobel prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney, for the Jean Cocteau Rep (NYC) production of The Cure at Troy, Heaney’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes. On stage a Greek chorus sang/spoke the songs---writing for Todd Almond’s extraordinary voice, I gave them new extended arrangments. “Remember Me, Forget Me” also sprang from my theater work, a Phoenix Theater Ensemble production of English poet Glyn Maxwell’s verse play Wolfpit.
Daniel Pociernicki, tenor, poet, and good friend, asked me to set Gerard Manley Hopkins’ well-known and well-beloved“God’s Grandeur,” and his own poem “Inside My Heart,” lyrics inspired by John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I adapted “Traveler’s Prayer” from the traditional Hebrew prayer for my niece Daphne’s wedding. These songs, with Heaney’s “Human Beings Suffer,” and my own “Clouds,” give the album a spiritual second theme..
Then, just because we felt like it, Todd and I jumped into two of my jazz songs, the blazingly ironic“I Apologize,” and “Don’t Ask Why,” a classic big ballad with lyrics by Michael Lydon and myself. On these and a few other tracks, Dave Hofstra’s bass and Pamela Bob’s backup vocals add palpable and poignant musical magic.
Thanks to Sean Swinney (and Louis) for his wonderful and inspirational studio where it is such a pleasure to work.