The Prince Consort - Ned Rorem - Audiophile Audition

Ned Rorem is the greatest underrated composer living today. Though he has complained in the past that his reputation as a song composer (Time Magazine's "Best Songwriter in the World") overshadows many of his instrumental works-and they are eminently worth getting to know-anyone who pens over 600 songs in this day and age, each unmistakably well-crafted and melodically oriented, each set to words by poets of the ages, is bound to have some sort of stereotype set upon them. But who cares, and really, why should the composer? No matter what is said or done, those things that the public determines to be worthy are the things that will survive, and if even only half of his 600 songs are still being sung in conservatories and recital halls 100 years from now-and they will be-it will be enough to ensure a lasting legacy. But my prediction is that there will be many more works testifying to this legacy apart from the vocal ones.

We are given here 29 songs of varied stripes and coming from all sorts of influences, the Anglo-sympathizer, the early French influences which never quite left Rorem, and the purely American, sometimes built from the composer's competitive spirit that was always going up against the likes of Copland and Barber. Many are well known, like his arrangement of Jeanie with the light brown hair, or Orchids. Others are not quite as ingrained in the public mind, though serious listeners will no doubt recognize many of them. Each is sung solo or in combination with the British-based group The Prince Consort. I simply must name them, as they are so deserving here: Anna Leese, soprano; Jennifer Johnston, mezzo; Andrew Staples, tenor; Tim Mead, counter tenor; and Jacques Imbrailo, baritone. Under the sturdy direction of pianist Alisdair Hogarth, this recital comes together with a bang and immediately takes it place among the best Rorem song discs ever assembled. Linn's gracious Super Audio sound compliments the singers in solo and in tutti. Easily one of the best this year, purchase absolutely required!

04 December 2009