George Crumb – Voices from the Morning of the Earth

“Voices from the Morning of the Earth” is subtitled “American Songbook VI” and for good reason. The songs are a collection of folk songs, most African-American, some cowboy, and two popular folk tunes — Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”

The songs’ melodies are left intact — although Crumb does break them down into individual phrases to work with. And while one phrase may be set in one key, the next may have a different tonal center. The disjointed nature of the phrases, and the clouds of sound that swirl around them cast these songs in new light.

I had heard the Dylan and Seeger songs so many times I no longer responded to them. Crumb strips away the good-time sing-along feel of those songs and gives them renewed emotional power. Sometimes its a dark power indeed. And made me pay attention and really consider the message in the words.

Also included is An Idyll for the Misbegotten (Images III) for amplified flute and percussion, and The Sleeper for mezzo-soprano and amplified piano. Both are atmospheric works that share some similarities with “Voices from the Morning.” But without the anchor of the folk song, the works drift off to their own wonderfully strange (but perfectly logical) destinations.

Another important addition to the Bridge Records’ George Crumb edition.

George Crumb: Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 17
Voices from the Morning of the Earth; An Idyll for the Misbegotten; The Sleeper Ann Crumb, soprano; Randall Scarlata, baritone; Orchestra 2001; James Freeman, conductor; Rachel Rudich, flute; David Colson, Paul Herrick, A.J. Matthew, percussion; Marcantonio Barone, piano
Bridge Records 9445

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