Magazine - Recordings for Relaxation
Thursday, November 6, 2003
A lovely program (with a message) from Massachusetts
By FRANK BEHRENS
In both, she proved that sopranos can indeed be both heard and understood over an orchestra. Her voice brilliantly cut through the players who in that theater were seated far too high relative to the stage, and yet just about every word of the English text was clear to all.
Some time after that, I had the pleasure of hearing and reviewing her CD "Ferrante and Ness: Christmas in Worcester" (Marjorie Ness being the organist in this production). Let me put it this way. When I give talks on the nature and history of Christmas carols, this is the CD I use for my examples.
Popping into her Web site, I noticed she had yet another CD out; and I was most eager to hear it. Since I have some inside information about it, I think I had best give an objective report first.
It is titled "Sea Tides and Time" and holds 23 selections ranging from "Oh, vieni al mare" by Donizetti, through a Scottish sea chantey, "The Storm" by Rachmaninoff, "Sea Snatch" by Samuel Barber, "At the River" by Ives and one of the same name by Copland. There are two lovely songs by Debussy, one of which is called "La mer est plus belle" (The sea is more beautiful) — and by now you should see that the theme of this collection is "Water."
It is all exquisitely sung and Maria has an excellent accompanist again, this time pianist Alys Terrien-Queen. It was recorded in March of last year at Wesley Methodist Church in Worcester, Mass.; and the simple sound to the project is just right. But why water? It is more than just a way of binding the selections together.
Ferrante and her husband Marc Andelman are very much interested in the preservation of this planet’s not infinite water supply. In fact, Marc has invented a new way to purify water, she wrote to me, and the aim is to desalinate sea water at extremely little cost.
So there is a strong social meaning to the selections on this CD. If one can be made aware of how beautiful and certainly how precious our water supply is, then perhaps this heightened awareness might lead to a bigger cooperative attempt to get our government (whose last thoughts seem to be concerned with conservation) to do something before ... Well, if we don’t turn the tide, time will run out! This is a message Washington had better hear, and "What better way," asks Maria, "to bring it to them (than) through beautiful music?"
But even this aside, Ferrante has given us a fine CD and perhaps getting a few copies might be appropriate for the upcoming season of gift-giving. Look into her Web site at www.mariaferrante.com. And please let me know what you think.