Rose in Bloom - Art Songs / Erin Morley, Gerald Martin Moore

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Erin Morley is one of today's most sought-after coloratura sopranos, and her debut recital album presents a thoughtfully curated program which mirrors a stroll through...

Erin Morley is one of today's most sought-after coloratura sopranos, and her debut recital album presents a thoughtfully curated program which mirrors a stroll through a garden, delving into rich repertoire inspired by flowers, birds, and nature. Morley, known for her operatic roles, draws on connections to the natural world, offering a mix of well-known pieces, contemporary compositions, and hidden gems.

A notable feature is the premiere recording of Ricky Ian Gordon's "Huit Chansons de Fleurs," a contemporary song cycle exploring themes of death, resurrection, fragrance, and the fleeting nature of beauty, adding a layer of poignancy to an album which features a diverse selection of vocal repertoire.

Among the album's highlights is Saint-Saëns's "La Libellule," a rarely heard gem capturing the agile movement of a dragonfly. Sullivan's "Rose-in-Bloom" stands out as the first to present the aria in its original key, the heights of the final cadenza just one example of Morley’s extraordinary performance of the repertoire. The program also includes compositions by Rachmaninov, Zemlinsky, and Milhaud, exploring further connections to the themes of blossoms and birds.

"Rose in Bloom" is an exploration of nature's influence on music, a testament to Erin Morley's artistry and originality, and a delightful journey through a garden of musical encounters.


In her first solo recital on CD, Erin Morley gives her all. “Rose in Bloom” presents like a carefully arranged flowerbed which, in a horticultural twist, invites in the musical exploration of roses and peonies (Rimsky-Korsakov and Ricky Ian Gordon), tulips (Ricky Ian Gordon), lilacs, and daisies (Rachmaninoff and Ivor Novello).

“Like a grand garden with structured plots and wider landscapes” – the booklet explains – “this program of songs proceeds with an organic unity across various composers, languages, periods, and styles of music. Rarities flourish alongside familiar blooms, providing a pleasing variety.”

And variety there is; in addition to the above-mentioned “Rose in Bloom” features lieder by as diverse a roster of composers as Arthur Sullivan, Michael Head, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Zemlinsky, Saint-Saëns, Milhaud, and Berg. The unifying thread is obviously thematic. But the release also allows for musically telling observations, such as comparison between Saint-Saëns’ “Le Rossignol et la Rose” and Darius Milhaud’s “Chanson de Ronsard.” Both are tonal depictions of birdsong with different technical demands each.

In the former Morley demonstrates the impressive bandwidth of her coloratura, each coated with the warm timbre of her slender yet remarkably full-bodied soprano voice. In the Milhaud piece she adds to her virtuosic display of coloratura runs, an uncanny feel for the French language, clearly articulated and intelligently phrased.

At the very heart of “Rose in Bloom” is Morley’s interpretation of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Huit Chansons de Fleurs.” Based on a very eclectic set of poems, including Dorothy Parker’s “One Perfect Rose,” the songs are best understood as an extended metaphor on the cycle of life, condensed into the variegated imagery of flowers and their symbolism.

Morley delineates Gordon’s songs with pristine musicianship; yet she rings more memorably in the remaining tracks, including the German lieder whose melancholy zeitgeist she captures with unfailing accuracy.

Overall, Morley thrives on the ambitiousness of her solo debut. In Brahms’ “Lerchengesang” she imbues her voice with a deeply felt sadness. By contrast, in “Neath My Lattice Through the Night” she delights with formidable joie de vivre topped by the sky high tones of the title-giving Rose-in-Bloom’s cadenza. She is helped by the sympathetic accompaniment of her pianist and mentor Gerald Martin Moore who aptly supports his American Nightingale even through the album’s most relentlessly fast passages.

Morley, in short, commands a beautifully ductile instrument which enthusiasts will be glad to find immortalized on CD.

-- OperaWire

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 19, 2024

  • UPC: 5060189562947

  • Catalog Number: ORC100294

  • Label: Orchid Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Romantic, 20th Century, Contemporary

  • Composer: Alban Berg, Johannes Brahms, Ricky Ian Gordon, Michael Head, Darius Milhaud, Ivor Novello, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Camille Saint-Saens, Arthur Sullivan, Alexander Zemlinsky

  • Performer: Erin Morely, Gerald Martin Moore