Virko Baley: Music for Emily Dickinson

Catalogue No: TOCC0681
EAN/UPC: 5060113446817
Release Date: 2023-09-01
Composer: Virko Baley
Artists: Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Karen Bentley Pollick, Lucy Shelton, Timothy Hoft, Virko Baley

Virko Baley was born in Ukraine in 1938 and came to the USA as a refugee in 1949, eventually making his home in Las Vegas. He has long been fascinated by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, as can be heard in the two moving works recorded here – one an orchestral song-cycle setting her texts, the other a suite for violin and piano inspired by those settings. They display an acute ear for orchestral colour, a fondness for dramatic gesture and a strong sense of lyricism, occasionally inflected by distant echoes of Baley’s eastern European origins, the richness of the song-cycle placing him downstream from Mahler and Berg and the restraint of the Songs without Words occasionally evoking Arvo Pärt.

Lucy Shelton, soprano
Cleveland Chamber Symphony
Virko Baley, conductor
Karen Bentley Pollick, violin
Timothy Hoft, piano

Listen To This Recording:

Uniforms of Snow for soprano and chamber orchestra (2002-2003) (35:31)

  1. I. Intrada and Song without Words (4:46)
  2. II. ‘Love can do all but raise the Dead’ (2:42)
  3. III. ‘Oh honey of an hour’ (0:59)
  4. IV. ‘I held a Jewel in my fingers’ (2:39)
  5. V. Interlude 1 (1:05)
  6. VI. ‘There is a solitude of space’ (4:23)
  7. VII. ‘Out of sight? What of that?’ (2:24)
  8. VIII. ‘”Hope” is the thing with feathers (3:02)
  9. IX. ‘There is a pain – so utter’ (3:22)
  10. X. Interlude 2: Tren (3:01)
  11. XI. Epilogue: ‘Little Cousins’ (7:08)

Ten Songs without Words for violin and piano (2003-2019) (39:21)

  1. No. 1 Love can do all but raise the Dead (2:48)
  2. No. 2 Oh honey of an hour (1:01)
  3. No. 3 There is a solitude of space (5:15)
  4. No. 4 L’Allegro (2:06)
  5. No. 5 There is a Languor (5:09)
  6. No. 6 Out of Sight? What of that? (1:43)
  7. No. 7 Der Abschied (9:59)
  8. No. 8 It struck me every Day (2:59)
  9. No. 9 There is a pain – so utter (3:16)
  10. No. 10 A Poem of Aleks (5:05)

First Recordings

2 reviews for Virko Baley: Music for Emily Dickinson

  1. :

    ‘The performance of Uniforms of Snow by Shelton and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony under the composer’s direction is superb, and I can say the same for violinist Karen Bentley Pollick and pianist Timothy Hoft in the Ten Songs without Words. Pollick has a warm, shimmering sound, and Hoft’s playing is very sensitive and alert. Toccata’s recorded sound is up to its usual high level, and the program notes by the composer and John Schaefer are thorough and helpful. Patricia McRae provides an informative biographical note on Baley.’

    —Henry Fogel, Fanfare Magazine, Jan/Feb 2024

  2. :

    ‘I like his music very much indeed. […]

    [Uniforms of Snow ] as a whole strikes me as some of the most effective settings of Dickinson’s poetry I’ve heard—and I’ve heard many. […]

    Renowned soprano Lucy Shelton hardly needs my praise, but gets it anyway for her beautiful and sensitive singing. Especially pleasing is the way she floats her high notes so effortlessly. In the dramatic songs, of which there are several, she brings considerable excitement and energy to her presentation. […] Baley, as conductor, knows exactly what he wants in his music and how to get the fine musicians in the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra to fulfill his intentions. […]

    Violinist Karen Bentley Pollick and pianist Timothy Hoft are clearly both masters of their respective instruments. The composer praises their playing in his notes, and I do the same here. They both strengthen my conviction that Virko Baley is an important and distinctive composer, one whom I’d welcome hearing in other works as I might have opportunity. Highly recommended on all fronts.’

    —David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare Magazine

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