George Crumb’s series of American Songbooks has been the composer’s primary occupation during the last decade, and the largest project of the composer’s career. Writing about the American Songbooks I and III (BRIDGE 9218A/B), ClassicsToday.com critic David Hurwitz states that “Crumb is a national treasure, and one of the very few contemporary composers whose new works are worth waiting for. These song cycles are masterpieces, plain and simple, and you must hear them.” American Songbooks II and IV were composed for the forces that give them their premiere recording on this two-disc set. Each cycle lasts about 45 minutes, setting 8 songs with one instrumental interlude. Each cycle is scored for a percussion quartet (playing more than 100 instruments) and amplified piano. The soprano Barbara Ann Martin and Orchestra 2001 have been among George Crumb’s greatest champions, and are the dedicatees of both of these cycles. As George Crumb nears his 80th birthday in 2009, Bridge Records nears completion of its Complete Crumb Edition. On Bridge’s Complete Crumb Edition, the composer has not only supervised all of the recordings, but has also taken part in them as pianist, percussionist and narrator.
A Journey Beyond Time (2003) (American Songbook II)
Songs of Despair and Hope (A Cycle of Afro-American Spirituals)
Winds of Destiny (2004) (American Songbook IV)
Songs of Strife, Love, Mystery and Exultation (A Cycle of American Civil War Songs, Folk Songs and Spirituals)
Barbara Ann Martin, soprano
James Freeman, conductor