NICHOLAS WHITE: SONGS OF INNOCENCE & THE RAVENMusic for Vocal Quartet and Chamber Ensemble
NICHOLAS WHITE, conductor
THE RAVEN CONSORT
Clara Rottsolk soprano
Roger O. Isaacs countertenor
Matthew Loyal Smith tenor
Mark Andrew Cleveland bass
Heather Braun-Bakken violin
Heidi Braun-Hill violin
Christopher Nunn viola
Colleen McGary-Smith cello
Kate Foss double bass
Laura Ward piano
World Premiere Recordings [2-CD]
"White demonstrates a gift for radiant, heartfelt, and touching melody... [He] seamlessly weaves ensemble and solo writing, both for the vocalists and instrumentalists, all admirably performed by the Raven Consort, captured in lovely recorded sound... This is a fine accomplishment by all concerned."
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [March/April 2023]
"It is fascinating to see how [White] went about [composing The Raven], with admirable results.... White’s half-hour piece benefits from every decision he made. He relates its idiom to musical theater, which in practice means that the writing is melodic, accessible, and dramatic. He is to be congratulated on successfully setting an iconic American poem to music that is so sensitive to Poe’s singular haunting gift. Some ingenious devices, such as a Marche fatale in 5/4 time, attest to White’s considerable ingenuity and freedom of imagination... White has many choral commissions to his credit, and I hope, on the strength of The Raven especially, that a strong professional ensemble brings out its full potential. For the moment, this release offers enticing evidence of what he has accomplished."
Huntley Dent, Fanfare [March/April 2023]
"This is lyrical fare, sometimes ravishing so, and in the main it has a Pomo jauntiness at times that charges our batteries and does away with a heavy ponderousness, yet still has a pinch of gravitas as needed. What captivates and beguiles is the obvious inventive strength of every bit of White's settings. Nothing is exactly High Modernist but you engage and if you are like me it all works so well, you in the end care nothing for hanging on to some style directives and just immerse your ears in the very brilliant tunefulness... this music stands out as strong on striking melodic charm... The performances are wonderful, the music endearing. Bravo for all that."
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate [February 2023]
"[White's] style is clean, melodic, and classical, writing in the spirit of Mendelssohn but embodying a quintessentially English sound along the lines of Rutter and sometimes Britten... The music is often gentle and tender, but also substantial for the performers. Above all, it is always effortlessly beautiful... I would seek out his music again, especially if it is performed by an ensemble as good as the Raven Consort."
Faro, American Record Guide [November/December 2022]
"Anyone who revels in the best in poetry will surely enjoy an encounter with composer Nicholas White’s sonic renderings of William Blake’s 'Songs of Innocence' and Edgar Allan Poe’s 'The Raven;' as performed by the Raven Consort... the visions of the two poets ascend to an operatic level of experience that could not possibly be attained in an armchair by simply reading the words. We learn quickly why White has become renowned for what he has achieved as a composer and conductor."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [November 2022]
"The Blake settings are...effective in the way they draw on multiple vocal ranges and provide apt instrumental coloration (under White’s leadership) that differentiates the texts well and allows the dominant brightness and subsidiary-but-crucial darker elements to come through to very good effect."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [October 2022]
" 'Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' This verse from Matthew 18:3 seems the unspoken inspiration for the remarkable Songs of Innocence by English poet William Blake (1757-1827), as heard here in inspired settings and performances by The Raven Consort... These eighteen Songs of Innocence (which some scholars believe were intended to be sung) are appropriately varied in expression and vocal texture in the settings we have here, while the performances of the singers and instrumentalists of The Raven consort do much to capture the essence of what each poem strives to tell us."
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Society [July 2022]
PROGRAM NOTESThe Raven Consort was formed in 2013 to give the first performance of Nicholas White’s The Raven, which was commissioned by Dumbarton Concerts, Washington, D.C. Since then, the group has performed and premiered many other works by White, with multiple performances of The Raven having been given across the Northeast region of the United States, as well as performances of his On Dreams Alone, My Mother’s Shadow, Kyrie on a Theme of Albinoni, From Earth to Heaven and In Sure and Certain Hope, among others.
Nicholas White’s musical career has evolved over three decades living and working in the United States. He is a Grammy-nominated composer and conductor, as well as a versatile organist, pianist and singer. In 2011, Nicholas was appointed to the post of Director of Chapel Music and Organist at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he finds time to compose during breaks in the school’s academic schedule. Previously, White has held positions at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in New York City, and at the Washington National Cathedral. He has held teaching and conducting posts with Boston Cecilia, Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus, Tiffany Consort, Woodley Ensemble and American University. White initially sang as a treble chorister in his native England, and went on to become an organ scholar of Clare College, Cambridge. He has received numerous commissions from choirs and musical organizations from around the world, and has amassed a large, distinguished catalog of compositions for a wide variety of ensembles and genres.
[ www.NicholasWhiteMusic.com ]
NICHOLAS WHITE (b.1967)
SONGS OF INNOCENCE (2020)
Text: William Blake (1757-1827)
II. The Shepherd
III. The Echoing Green
IV. Little Lamb
V. Heaven’s Light
VI. The Blossom
VII. The Chimney-Sweeper
VIII. Lost and Found
IX. Laughing Song
X. A Cradle Song
XI. The Divine Image
XII. Holy Thursday
XV. Nurse’s Song
XVI. Infant Joy
XVII. A Dream Song
XVIII. Sorrow and Piping
THE RAVEN (2013)
Text: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
II. A Visitor
III. Lenore I
VI. Lenore II
Published by Nicholas White Music [ www.nicholaswhitemusic.com ].
Recorded 26-29 July 2021 at The Oates Performing Arts Building, St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire. A Candlewood Digital high resolution Natural Presence recording: Produced, engineered, edited and mastered by Richard Price.