Critic Don Clark has a fantastic and thorough new review for Mark Abel’s Terrain of the Heart recording:
“Abel melds his experience in classical, rock and song writing music into songs that are sophisticated, accessible, original and tuneful…well crafted, emotionally complex and engaging lyric songs in the truest sense of the form.
“Very theatrical in nature, “Chameleon” could be envisioned as a one actor play, but Abel’s accompanying music, alternatively wistful, agonized and even confused, propels the story forward as much as the lyrics. Soprano Jamie Chamberlin, along with pianist Victoria Kirsch totally understand and are committed to the work. Chamberlin negotiates the many chromatic leaps and rapid changes of emotion and texture. Kirsch is a sensitive yet propulsive accompanist and a full partner in telling the story.
“Pisturino is gifted with a big, but clear and slightly bright voice that perfectly suits the darkly expressive poetry. Her’s is a voice tailor made for art song. Of the three cycles, “Five Poems” is the most “classical” influenced, more adventurous and flexible in tempi and dynamics, befitting the more hauntingly symbolic nature of the lyrics. … Abel’s stark and expressionistic music works in tandem with the often mysterious poetry to deliver a most satisfying yet challenging musical experience. “Five Poems” is certainly a fine addition to the song repertoire and worth repeated hearings in recordings and in recitals or concerts.
“La Sonnambula is a touch more sophisticated than many of the other songs, growing in drama, dynamics and lyrical intensity from a shadowy figure in the piano. To my ears, it is the single most effective song on the disc.
“Abel’s music in each of the cycles is highly chromatic and linear, the incessant forward motion showing the formidable influences of the composer’s rock music roots. … Put all that aside, and listen to some fine, easily approachable and frequently satisfying songs.” —Don Clark, Pictures on Silence