Garfein handpicked eleven poems from the large output of Donald Hall, the 2006 poet laureate who died in June at eighty-nine, creating—as Hall puts it in the notes—a cycle that has ‘a wholeness I could never have anticipated or predicted.’ Garfein demonstrates considerable versatility, imagination—Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News
andsubtlety in putting across Hall’s words. … Garfein keeps the vocal line simple and forthright, communicating the text naturally while allowing the piano part to provide harmonic freshness. Tenor Michael Slattery is a felicitous choice to perform these songs; his smooth, flexible, appealingly direct voice is a perfect match for the immediacy of expression that is a hallmark of both composer and poet. … The last track is Garfein’s setting of “Otherwise,” a poem by Hall’s late wife, Jane Kenyon, an accomplished poet in her own right. The poems of Mortality Mansions are largely about Kenyon anyway, and there’s something magical about hearing her resurrected via her own words in this final song. Soprano Marnie Breckenridge gives lovely voice to this dreamy meditation. The skilled and expressive pianist Dimitri Dover is also an essential part of this recording’s success.”
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