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Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Pauline Viardot (1821-1910)

soprano Elissa Alvarez

pianist Eunmi Ko

Written by the generously talented and revered (while still not yet fully recorded) singer, pianist, educator, host, polyglot, and composer Pauline Viardot (née García), this late song depicts the tender and miraculous slumber and awakening of the infant Jesus. The static voice line mirrors his sleeping, and rises dramatically with the piano at the end as his attention arrives on his holy mother and reverberates through the world.

English Translation:

Now Jesus slept

Laid on a swaddle,

The virgin watched over him

And an angel on the wing

Acted as curtain

Hanging over his head.

At his feet a lamb

A sweet and shy beast,

Waited, confident

his master awakes.

And smiling Jesus

With lips ruddy,

Finally opened his eyes

which he turned to his mother,

And the night sky

Gave way to the light.

Josephine Lang (1815-1880)

soprano Janet Ross

mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo

cellist Yeil Park

pianist Lindsay Garritson

pianist Eunmi Ko

Josephine Lang was something of a pianistic and compositional prodigy, though her success was hampered by recurrent health issues. A silver lining to this, however, was that while convalescing at Wildbad Kreuth, by design of Queen Caroline Augusta of Bavaria, she became acquainted with professor, lawyer and poet Christian Reinhold Köstlin, who would become her husband. The two enjoyed a happy marriage and family life until his death in 1856. At this point Josephine Lang renewed her musical motivations to support her five children, and despite some initial struggles, became widely published, with the help of Clara Schumann and Ferdinand Hiller. She composed and taught, despite poor health and psychological difficulties, until her death in 1880 by heart attack. She left behind a strong body of work rivaling any great Lieder composer of the era.

George Bridgetower (1778-1860)

soprano Zyda Culpepper

fortepianist Sylvia Berry

This emotional and energetic song is one of only two confirmed extant works by George Bridgetower, the other being a set of piano exercises. It consists of three melodically strophic verses, and a through-composed keyboard accompaniment, filled with colorfully ambitious flourishes. This was published shortly after earning his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cambridge. It was dedicated to “Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales,” who was 16 year old Charlotte Augusta at the time. This appears to be the first recording of the piece, as well as the first recording of any Bridgetower composition, at least that is digitally documented and available.

George Bridgetower, originally baptised Hieronimo Hyppolito de Augusto in Poland, was a composer, pianist, polyglot and acclaimed violinist of Afro-Caribbean heritage. He moved to London as a child, where he spent most of his life and career – by the age of ten he appears in documents as a violinist employed at the Drury Lane Theatre. He concertized on violin all around Europe and was a favorite of the upper-class and royalty. Visiting Vienna at the age of 25 he was introduced to and became friendly with Beethoven, who wrote what is now known as the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata for him, and the two premiered the work together in 1803. They fell out, however, and Beethoven changed the dedication for publication. Though he led a distinguished career, by the end of his long life, Bridgetower faced obscurity and poverty. The journal Le Mercure de France wrote of him: “His talent is one of the best replies one can give to philosophers who wish to deprive people of his nation and color of the opportunity to distinguish themselves in the arts.”

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