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Catalog | Solo Album | December Songs for Voice and Orchestra

I Know Things Now: My Life in Sondheim’s Words

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Digital Release: November 11, 2022

Physical Release: November 25, 2022

from the liner notes...

This premiere recording trades the concert grand’s 88 keys for a luxurious unplugged instrumental ensemble of 37. In pitch-perfect casting, the vocalist this time is Victoria Clark, originator of the roles of Alice Beane in Titanic and Margaret Johnson, which won her a Tony Award in Adam Guettel’s genre-defying The Light in the Piazza.

From the moment Clark signed on for the album, she began examining the material not as a voice for hire but as a fully invested singing actress, out to make the role as much her own as her kaleidoscopically nuanced Margaret Johnson. After months of intense preparation, she laid down “scratch” vocals with piano, documenting her interpretive choices song by song, moment by moment.

That working tape, no less than Yeston’s original piano score, would guide Hochman in charting the peaks and valleys and ambience and cinematography of Clark’s journey. Would the huge emotional arc she traces in the monologue “I Am Longing” be sustainable without all the symphonic fuel? On the recording, Clark opens sotto voce, tentatively, conveying thoughts as they take shape in her head. Next, fragile, innocent, hopeful, and a touch naïve, Clark speaks her need out loud. When the world ignores her, she tries again, her voice raw with rage (this isn’t pretty). Then, all passion drains.

Again and again, the stirrings of the heart a chanteuse shares with us close up, as intimate confidences, are scaled to the dimensions of grand opera – still personal but flung out to the world, larger than life. Try matching that with just the piano behind you!

— Matthew Gurewitsch

December Songs for Voice and Orchestra
Performed by Victoria Clark
Composed by Maury Yeston

You may think you know Maury Yeston’s December Songs – his poignant, richly layered journey patterned after Schubert’s Winterreise – but you don’t. Commissioned in 1991 by Carnegie Hall in honor of its centennial celebration, Yeston responded with a seminal work for voice and piano that reflected and honored the variety of musical worlds that had long graced the Carnegie Hall stage: from classical to cabaret, from folk to pop. Since then, December Songs has received numerous performances and been translated into a dozen languages, but it has long been Yeston’s dream for these songs to gain the dimensions and power that only a full orchestra can provide. In 2022, that dream became a reality, when orchestrator Larry Hochman was commissioned to score the piece for 37 instruments, and actress and singer Victoria Clark – who had taken Broadway by storm as Alice Beane in Yeston’s Tony Award–winning Titanic and who had herself been honored with a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for The Light in the Piazza – signed on to portray the wounded woman who wanders a wintry Central Park, immersed in but ultimately triumphing over her travails. Clark put herself through a four-month rehearsal period, determined to make the role her own, and to ensure that her journey was every bit as detailed and persuasive as if she were performing it on the stage. Upon its recording in May 2022, the results proved cathartic, as songs written to be intimate were raised to the theatrical rhetoric of virtual symphonic dimensions, yet miraculously retained all their subtleties and delicacies. As Yeston remarked at the time, “Knowing these songs only with piano accompaniment, our jaws dropped as Ted Sperling gave the downbeat, the brass came in triple forte and Vicki began her journey with such stunning artistry. It transformed what had been chamber music to something so new, I could never have anticipated it.” Music critic Matthew Gurewitsch hailed it as “a larger-than-life, cinematic burst of grand opera, with the stirrings of the heart a chanteuse shares with us still close up, as intimate confidences.” Now PS Classics, which has had the honor of collaborating with the composer on nearly a dozen of his works (including Grammy-nominated cast albums of Nine and Death Takes a Holiday and acclaimed releases of The Maury Yeston Songbook and Maury Sings Yeston), is thrilled to unveil December Songs for Voice and Orchestra, a bold reimagining of a pioneering work that triumphantly broadens its musical and emotional range.

sound clips

track listing
  1. December Snow
  2. Where Are You Now
  3. Please Let's Not Even Say Hello
  4. When Your Love Is New
  5. Bookseller in the Rain
  6. My Grandmother's Love Letters
  7. I Am Longing
  8. I Had a Dream About You
  9. By the River
  10. What a Relief

you might also like

Maury Sings Yeston

Victoria Clark: Fifteen Seconds of Grace

Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Musical World of Maury Yeston

Nine: The Musical
New Broadway Cast

Death Takes a Holiday

The Maury Yeston Songbook
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