Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review of Randal Turner's New CD: "His delivery can by hypnotic"

Randal Turner's amazing new CD

Arthur Leonard, who writes the insightful blog Leonard Link, has written a review of barihunk Randal Turner's new CD "Living American Composers." Here it is:

After reading about Randal Turner on the barihunks website, I was inspired to search out his recent vocal recital release, available through, which documents his San Francisco recital debut at Swedenborgian Church on December 6, 2010.  With pianist Allen Perriello as his collaborator, Turner presents an interesting mix of music by American composers, including both more familiar names (Ricky Ian Gordon and Jake Heggie) and new discoveries (Glen Roven, Julia Schwartz, and Clint Borzoni).  All are worth hearing, but I especially enjoyed the Gordon songs.  I've listened to a lot of Gordon's music lately, finding the composer's own recordings to be a useful reference but especially enjoying his songs in select groupings within mixed recitals by other composers and performers, where I think they make an even stronger impact and tend to stand out for their sensitive word-setting.  In this case, we have his "Four Poems by Dorothy Parker" and an aria from his opera "The Grapes of Wrath."  From Heggie, whose music is predictably mellifluous, we have two songs, and an aria from his opera "Moby Dick," which was premiered last year in Texas.

The Roven  pieces are "Four Melancholy Songs," using verses by William Butler Yeats.  I might have advised against starting a recital with four melancholy songs - a bit of a downer, no matter how artful they are - and started with Julia Schwartz's "Don Juan at Forty," to have a shot of humor at the beginning.  But both are performed with great sensitivity by Turner and Perriello, and are certainly worth discovering, as are the closing songs, two Whitman poems set by Borzoni.  In his fascinating note, Turner describes their composition as a true collaboration.  For an encore, they went with the physical setting and presented an arrangement by pianist Perriello of the old standby, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," by Goerge Cory and Douglass Cross.

My favorite vocal types are countertenor and baritone, so I have to add Randal Turner to my collection of favorites.  I certainly hope he gets more recording opportunities.  His voice is rich and dark and he controls it superbly, without the occasional sluggishness one can sense with big baritones.  He is especially effective singing long, drawn-out lines softly -- something one doesn't necessarily expect from baritones -- and his delivery can be hypnotic.  More, please!

Randal Turner
You can click HERE to download or purchase the CD from CDBaby. The DVD of the performance is available at Amazon.


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