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Classical Music Review

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Dreams of a New Day
Songs by Black Composers


Composers: Various
Performed by: Will Liverman (baritone) and Paul Sánchez
Label: Cedille Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 12 February 2021

Baritone Will Liverman releases Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers with pianist Paul Sánchez via Cedille Records. The album features works by composers born between 1866 and 1981...

Will Liverman's vocals breathe new life into these 19 tracks (1 hr, 39 sec). It's interesting that stylistically there's little in the way to date these pieces individually. All of them could have been written yesterday, or a hundred years ago. This is classical music at its finest.

I've been listening to this for weeks now and every time I replay it I find something new to like about it. But the most interesting aspect, for me, is Liverman's approach. It really does feel like these are all old favourites he's come to love over the years and he's revisiting them with the gusto and energy that someone who has an intimate knowledge of the workings of each piece. You just have to listen to Shawn E. Okpebholo's 'Ballad of Birmingham' from 'Two Black Churches' to see what I mean.

Talking about the album, Liverman says, "Right now, it is more important than ever to celebrate the contributions of Black composers, and I’m honoured to give voice to the art songs on this album. There was an enormous amount of material to choose from; Black composers wrote so much more than just spirituals! The album is dedicated to my late mentor Robert Brown who influenced the lives of so many students through his many years of teaching at The Governor’s School for the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. I hope this album inspires you to keep striving to have our voices heard and to speak up constantly and work towards equality."

The piano and baritone combination works incredibly well, with it sounding like a private recording just for the listener. This is an album to treasure. You'll get years of pleasure from its tracks.

Track listing:

Damien Sneed (B. 1979)
01 - I Dream a World (2:39)

Henry Burleigh (1866–1949)
Five Songs of Laurence Hope (15:48)
02 - I. Worth While (2:00)
03 - II. The Jungle Flower (3:16)
04 - III. Kashmiri Song (3:26)
05 - IV. Among the Fuchsias (2:57)
06 - V. Till I Wake (3:57)

Leslie Adams (B. 1932)
07 - Amazing Grace (3:19)

Margaret Bonds (1913–1972)
Three Dream Portraits (5:52)
08 - I. Minstrel Man (2:01)
09 - II. Dream Variation (2:07)
10 - III. I, Too (1:39)

Thomas Kerr (1915–1988)
11 - Riding to Town (3:09)

Shawn E. Okpebholo (B. 1981)
Two Black Churches (15:23)
12 - I. Ballad of Birmingham (9:19)
13 - II. The Rain (6:01)

Robert Owens (1925–2017)
Mortal Storm, Op. 29 (10:17)
14 - I. A House in Taos (3:21)
15 - II. Little Song (2:19)
16 - III. Jaime (0:37)
17 - IV. Faithful One (1:42)
18 - V. Genius Child (2:08)

Richard Fariña (1937–1966) Arr. Will Liverman
19 - Birmingham Sunday (3:50)


Darren Rea

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