- Charles Fussell (b. 1938)
- Sanford Sylvan, baritone
- Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- Gil Rose, conductor
These two orchestral works by Charles Fussell are new to me, as is his music in general. Wilde, Symphony for Baritone and Orchestra, was runner-up for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize, a surprise not because of its merits or lack thereof, but because the style is not typical of most contenders from that era. Since the track record of Pulitzer decisions is decidedly mixed, runner-up status is considered a badge of honor among some new music aficionados.
New England composer Charles Fussell has specialized largely in symphonic and chamber music that features voices, and he writes for the voice comfortably and idiomatically. He has an authentic gift for text setting, and his vocal lines are unabashedly lyrical and expressive. Idiomatically, Fussell’s music is eclectic, incorporating folk song as easily as serial techniques. His Wilde, symphony for baritone and orchestra, was conceived as a sketch for an opera about the British author, with a text by Will Graham.
Charles Fussell (b. 1938) resume includes studies at Eastman with Bernard Rogers, in Berlin with Boris Blacher, a long stint as Virgil Thomson’s “assistant,” and a variety of posts in the Boston area (including the Boston University faculty). The two pieces in this collection are outgrowths of planned operatic projects, evidently not yet brought to fruition. High Bridge is meant to be a study for an opera based on the life of Hart Crane.
Appearing in the outer movements, Slyvan’s charisma enables Fussell’s Wilde to soar. The work sets selections from Wilde’s letters to Lord Alfred Douglas that reflect on the joys of fatherhood and his despondency after his trial and incarceration. Fussell folds in an artful Victorianesque tune, its temperament bending to suit the mood. The curtain raiser, High Bridge Prelude (alternately called High Bridge, Portrait of Hart Crane) is taken from a larger work commemorating Hart Crane.
Though the Grammy Awards have never held quite the same cachet in classical music as they do in pop, they still carry a good deal of weight, especially for listeners seeking to navigate a bewildering array of new compositional voices and a thicket of recordings of standard repertoire. And this year’s nominations in classical categories, announced last week, include three with especially strong local connections.
BMOP/sound, the country's premier record label devoted exclusively to new music recordings, was honored by The Recording Academy as nominations for the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced December 4, 2008. Recognized in the category of "Best Classical Vocal Performance" is the extraordinary performance of Sanford Sylvan (baritone) featured on the label's CD release of Charles Fussell: Wilde.
The 2009 Grammy Award nominations were announced today and among them was Sanford Sylvan, baritone soloist featured in BMOP/sound's Charles Fussell: Wilde. Sylvan has been nominated for Best Classical Vocal Performance, making this his fourth Grammy Award nomination.
Nice. Charles Fussell has established his career in New England. He studied at Eastman with Thomas Canning and Bernard Rogers but has also worked with Boris Blacher and Virgil Thomson. His musical orientation is largely tonal (although structural elements of serialism hover at the edges), with no fear of dissonance.
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.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), an orchestra devoted exclusively to performing and commissioning new music, has announced it will launch an in-house record label, BMOP Sound, in January.
BMOP Sound will release five world premiere CDs early next year: John Harbison’s Ulysses, Michael Gandolfi’s Y2K Compliant, Gunther Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz (with the composer narrating), Lee Hyla’s Lives of the Saints (with mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger), and Charles Fussell’s Wilde (with baritone Sanford Sylvan).