BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, announces the release of its sixth CD Charles Fussell: Wilde. Inspired by two iconic literary figures, this CD is a musical exposé of the tragic lives of American poet Hart Crane and Victorian dramatist Oscar Wilde. Performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), this recording embraces the rich extended tonalities and shifting, lyrical textures characteristic of Fussell's musical language.
A veteran composer, Charles Fussell has served as an important figure in the musical lives of Boston and New York for over 20 years. Inspired from the novels and poetry of his youth, Fussell transformed the lives of these celebrated figures into the subjects for two musical compositions: an orchestra prelude to a larger choral work, and an operatic narrative for baritone and orchestra. High Bridge Prelude (2003) is based on "Portrait of Hart Crane," an internal middle movement of High Bridge, which was commissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. The work is in many ways, an outgrowth of Fussell's penchant for the poet's most famous work, The Bridge, and evidence of that is clear. Fussell says, "High Bridge, in keeping with my source's assessment, is brash, percussive, and lyrical in quick alteration." The prelude opens with a fanfare, equaling Crane's own brazen personality, but is soon countered by uneasy textures in the strings, which echoes of his emotional distress. The work ends in a percussive roar, impressing upon the listener the deep anguish that plaugued Crane before he took his own life.
Similar to High Bridge, Wilde is a moving tribute to Oscar Wilde, the wise voice of universal freedom whose life and work affected our notion of diversity and tolerance. Written in the summer of 1990 in Saratoga Springs, this 40-minute, three-movement work reveals a glimpse of a great writer, from the height of his celebrity to his forlorn death. "A successful playwright, sexual predator, and devoted family man...in the depths of his fall, roaming France and Italy (orchestrally) after his prison term to a shadowy waltz, and finally on his death bed. Old-fashioned in its music, the piece holds up because it's so skillfully worked out and its themes are so memorable," (Boston Phoenix). Featuring the bittersweet text of Will Graham, Wilde offers a magnificent performance by Sanford Sylvan, "an extraordinary sympathetic articular of the text," (Boston Phoenix).
Charles Fussell: Wilde is one of nine BMOP/sound recordings slated for release in 2008: John Harbison: Ulysses (released March 1st); Michael Gandolfi: Y2K Compliant (released April 1st); Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints (released May 1st) featuring Mary Nessinger (mezzo-soprano); Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz (released June 1st); Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin (released in July); Lukas Foss: The Prairie featuring The Providence Singers in October; Louis Andriessen: La Passione featuring Cristina Zavalloni (mezzo-soprano) and Monica Germino (violin) in November; and David Rakowski: Winged Contraption featuring Marilyn Nonken (piano) in December. BMOP/sound recordings are distributed by Albany Music Distributors, coupled with global online distribution. An interactive BMOP website with digital download capabilities is planned for later in 2008. http://www.bmopsound.org.