Pope Joan, Transfiguration

NW 80663CD NW 80663CD

"Anne LeBaron (b. 1953) is one of the most vital composers of the post-war generation. Her overall aesthetic is steeped in the sound world of the European/American avant-garde of the mid-twentieth century, but like others of her post-war generation, LeBaron rejects the premise of stylistic continuity that underlies much classical music. LeBaron's aesthetic is defined by supplementation: the sound world of the European/American avant-garde is supplemented with a host of others -- popular music, jazz, historical styles of the classical tradition, religious music, and so on. The two works on this recording, 'Pope Joan' (2000) and 'Transfiguration' (2003), are relatively new works that sustain LeBaron's blossoming aesthetic of supplementation while at the same time refining and refreshing it. Both are theatrical works for soprano and chamber ensemble. 'Pope Joan' was conceived as a dance opera, and while the recorded version here is for concert setting, the dramatic nature of the work shines through. 'Transfiguration' is a concert work but entails dramatic staging, gestures, and props that move it toward ritual. 'Pope Joan' develops its dramatic meaning through a combination of semantic, gestural, and musical resources, much like a traditional opera. 'Transfiguration,' however, relies little on the semantic meaning of its text for dramatic meaning; rather, the text serves as one element of musical design. Thus, its dramatic meaning arises from sonic design, allusions to semantic meaning, and performance gestures. Both works utilize a variety of different forms of vocal delivery performed primarily by the soprano but occasionally by the instrumentalists, such delivery ranging from fully expressive aria-like melodic singing to recitative-like declamation to impassive chanting. Both pieces rely on a large number of timbrally diverse percussion instruments that are essential to the dramatic design."