In this unique Delos album, two-time Grammy Award-winning composer, librettist, and producer Herschel Garfein introduces Mortality Mansions: a stunning new song cycle setting poems by former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall.
Hall’s plain-spoken, yet profound poetry reveals his candid perspectives on aging, with its inevitable physical decline, fears, personal losses, and emotional trials. Yet he balances these negative aspects with such persisting joys and pleasures as loving companionship and physical intimacy.
Garfein’s music effectively envelops Hall’s verses like a glove, illuminating their attendant moods, potent emotions, and stark verbal imagery. The album includes an interlude of Hall’s readings of his poetry and ends with a memorable epilogue: Garfein’s pensive setting of a moving poem by Jane Kenyon, Hall’s late wife.
Tenor Michael Slattery performs the song cycle brilliantly, and soprano Marnie Breckenridge interprets the epilogue to devastating effect. Exceptional piano collaboration comes courtesy of Dimitri Dover.