Songs for Soprano and Piano

Giuseppe Martucci, Elsa Sangiacomo Respighi, Ottorino Respighi, Vittorio Rieti, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov




"Haigh’s soprano is the reddish gold of a sunny autumn day. She is a serious artist, yet her approach to the songs in Il Circolo Respighi is fleet so that, whatever their content, they never come off as depressing. Her Russian in the Rimsky-Korsakov is more singerly than idiomatic, but this is as it should be... Il Circolo Respighi seems an earnest effort by an accomplished young soprano... Randall Fusco’s piano accompaniment is superlative."
Nicole De Sapio, Fanfare [January/February 2023]
"Haigh undoubtedly succeeds in this original CD from MSR... The repertoire is enchanting and rare... The notes are excellent and everything you could want. Texts and translations are included. The sound is clear, and the balance is absolutely equal... Highly recommended for all those who want to explore the rarer end of Italian song."
David Cutler, Fanfare [January/February 2023]
"Haigh’s voice is a true soprano, and she captures the sense of sadness [in The West Fades in the Distance] well. Randall Fusco starts as he means to go on, impeccable in every way; each chord is perfectly voiced... Rimsky's Nifma closes the disc, a gorgeous cloud of sound on the piano and, for the voice, a melody to die for... This is a highly educational disc, beautifully programmed, and well performed and recorded."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [January/February 2023]
"[Haigh] has prepared this program well and the songs she has chosen show the common threads of a musical style... She makes good use of dynamic contrasts... The best songs of the program come at the end with two that are among Ottorino Respighi’s best known and perhaps best... they show Haigh at her best. Credit to Randall Fusco for his sensitive light-fingered playing of the filigree music of this program."
R. Moore, American Record Guide [November/December 2022]
"What is clear throughout the disc is how well Haigh handles this material: she has a firm, clear, well-supported soprano voice that seems thoroughly at home in repertoire from this time period, and she presents all the songs with respect and with close attention to their emotional underpinnings – without ever overdoing their sometimes-excessive sentimentality. Fusco supports her ably throughout, and the disc will be of considerable interest"
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [November 2022]
"[This is an] impressive debut solo CD... Gabrielle Haigh is well-qualified to bring both excellent vocal qualities and a high level of scholarship to the Circolo Respighi project...  She and her colleague, pianist Randall Fusco, present these 23 pieces with sensitivity and penetrating understanding."
Cleveland Classical [September 2022]
"the present program is intriguing, with many points of interest... The program also has real substance in terms of the literary merit of its song lyrics... The thesis of the program is also of interest [celebrating] the great Italian composer of that name, who studied under Rimsky-Korsakov in Russia and returned home to inspire generations of composers in his own homeland... Respighi’s settings of [four] poems [are a] crowning touch to a great album."
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [Auhust 2022]
This album, Il Circolo Respighi, was inspired by my discovery that Ottorino Respighi’s wife, Elsa (née Olivieri-Sangiacomo), was also his pupil and a talented composer herself. This revelation led to the idea of performing a recital featuring art songs composed by Respighi’s most influential teachers, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Giuseppe Martucci, by his students Vittorio Rieti and Elsa Respighi, and of course several of his own. In reflecting on the years 2020 and 2021, a period of disease, political upheaval and social change, it is interesting to note that the composers on this disc must have felt similar if not greater levels of uncertainty and angst during the tumultuous times in which they lived. This may be the reason so many of the songs here are focused on other times and places, real or imagined — when times are hard, escapism is powerful.

The composers and poets were cosmopolitan and well-travelled, and their works feature a variety of languages and stylistic influences. The texts are lyrical, but with an edge of unexpected darkness or melancholy. Sometimes the mood is nostalgic, sometimes vividly dreamlike, and occasionally quite dramatic. Musically, the repertoire is unified by colorful and chromatic writing that, in many cases, hints at the fantastic orchestral qualities made famous by Rimsky-Korsakov and Respighi themselves.

Il Circolo Respighi’s program was conceived in an arc, placing songs by Respighi’s teachers at the beginning and end, with his students’ songs clustered in the middle, and his own forming bridges between the others. Of the repertoire on this recording, Ottorino’s is the best-known. Deità Silvane, set to five Petrarchan sonnets by Italian writer and illustrator Antonio Rubino, combines classical themes with vividly impressionistic settings. “Notte,” “Pioggia,” “Nevicata” and “Nebbie,” all composed at the beginning of the 20th century, depict the forces of nature in dramatic fashion and act as the denouement of the recital.

Soprano Gabrielle Haigh maintains a multifaceted career in art song, vocal chamber music, concert work and opera, all of which have instilled in her a passion for the collaborative process. Haigh has appeared as a soloist with notable conductors, including Nicholas McGegan with Philharmonia Baroque, Martin West with the San Francisco Ballet, Christopher Wilkins with the Akron Symphony, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen with the European Union Baroque Orchestra and Gerhardt Zimmermann with the Canton Symphony, as well as with Stephen Cleobury, Olaf Storbeck, Oliver Weder and others. Her solo concert repertoire includes Mozart’s Requiem, J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion and Mass in B minor, the role of Benjamin in Handel’s Joseph and His Brethren, Brahms’ A German Requiem, Handel’s Birthday Ode to Queen Anne, Vaughan Williams’ Hodie and Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No.5.Haigh’s operatic roles have included Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Rosalinde in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring, Diane in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon, and leading roles in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and The Grand Duke. She has given numerous recitals of art songs and vocal chamber music spanning a range of repertoire from early Baroque to contemporary works, often collaborating with members of The Cleveland Orchestra. Haigh appeared as a Colburn Fellow at SongFest in 2019 and has also trained in historical performance practice. She has appeared in master classes and coached with Libby Larsen, Jake Heggie and Margo Garrett, among others. Her voice teachers have included Marla Berg, Sylvia Anderson, Nicola-Jane Kemp, Stephen Varcoe, and Barbara Rearick. Born into a musical family, Haigh began her training in music theory, piano and composition at an early age with members of her family of composers and performers. As an accomplished young composer, she won numerous national and international prizes from BMI, ASCAP, MTNA and NFMC. Her orchestral tone poem Poème Rituel was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra under James Feddeck on her 18th birthday, and her Symphony No.1, composed when she was 16, was premiered by the Monterey Symphony under Max Bragado Darman. Since then, Haigh has focused on vocal performance, and with her early background in composition and family relationships was compelled to explore the relationship between Ottorino Respighi, his teachers and his students – including wife Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo – which led to the choice of repertoire on this album. She holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of Cambridge, where she served as a soloist and choral scholar in the Choir of Clare College. Haigh’s extra-musical interests include the study of languages, classical history and philosophy, and lyric poetry.
Pianist Randall Fusco is a soloist and collaborative artist who has concertized throughout the United States and at the University of Limerick in Ireland for the College Music Society International Conference. Fusco has performed with members of The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony, and has appeared on several renowned concert series, including the Kent Blossom Music Festival, Rocky River Chamber Music Society, Cleveland Institute of Music Concert Series and the Dana Concert Series of Youngstown State University. He has appeared as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra and Alliance Symphony Orchestra, and with symphonic bands in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He has collaborated with artists at conventions hosted by the National Flute Association, the International Double Reed Society, the North American Saxophone Alliance and the International Society of Bassists, and has served as staff accompanist at the John Mack Oboe Camp, Castleman Quartet Program, Giorgio Tozzi Scholarship Concerts of the Dana School of Music, Cleveland Trombone Symposium and International Women’s Brass Festival at Edinboro University. Active in contemporary music, Fusco performs regularly in concerts hosted by the Cleveland Composers Guild and Cleveland Chamber Collective, and has presented world premieres of chamber and solo works by Margi Griebling-Haigh, Ty Alan Emerson, Kevin Wilson and Stephen Stanziano. Also an active recording artist, Fusco has collaborated in a wide variety of repertoire with numerous artists, including members of The Cleveland Orchestra and faculty artists from Youngstown and Kent State Universities. Recordings include The Expressive Horn with William Slocum, Déjeuner sur l’herb with saxophonist James Umble, Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases and Nostalgica with bassoonist Barrick Stees, several with chamber ensemble Panorámicos, and others. Fusco has performed in master classes for renowned pianists Menahem Pressler and Samuel Sanders; violinists Arnold Steinhardt and Franco Gulli; cellists Yo-Yo Ma and David Soyer; and saxophonist Eugene Rousseau. Fusco earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Cecile Genhart, Frank Glazer and Barbara Lister-Sink. He also studied vocal coaching and accompanying with John Wustman at the University of Illinois. Fusco was Professor of Music at Hiram College for 30 years, where he was granted the title Professor Emeritus.
Text: Count Aleksei Konstantinovich Tolstoy (1817–1875)
The West Fades Into the Distance
Text: Giosuè Carducci (1850–1900)
I. Maggiolata (May Awakens)
II. Pianto antico (Ancient Tears)
III. Nevicata (Snowfall)
Text: Antonio Rubino (1880–1964)
I.  I Fauni (The Fauns)
II. Musica in horto (Music in the Garden)
III. Egle (Aegle)
IV. Acqua   (Water)
V. Crepuscolo (Twilight)
Text: Omar Khayyam (1048–1131)
I.  Allegro 
II. Lento   
III. Andante
IV. Vivace             
VITTORIO RIETI (1898–1994)
La Crise (Crisis)
Soir d ’été (Summer Evening)
I. La muerte del payador | Text: Rafael Obligado (1851–1920)
II. Momento | Text: Joaquín Dicenta Alonso (1893–1967)
III. Duermete mi alma | Text: Traditional (Anonymous)
Nevicata (Snowfall) (1905) | Text: Ada Negri (1870–1945)
Notte (Night) (1912) | Text: Ada Negri (1870–1945)      
Nebbie (Mist) (1906) | Text: Ada Negri (1870–1945)    
Pioggia (Rain) (1909) | Text: Vittoria Aginoor Pompilj (1855–1910) 
Text: Apollon Nikolayevich Maykov (1821–1897)
Nimfa – Romansy, Op.56 (The Nymph)

Recorded 10-12 November 2020 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Belvedere, California. Produced, engineered, editing and mastered by David v.R. Bowles, Swineshead Productions, LLC.

MSR Classics