Patrick Mason, baritone; Joanne Polk, piano
The pianist Joanne Polk has probably done more than anybody to revive interest in the music of American romantic Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944). In addition to three Arabesque CDs devoted to her complete solo piano music, Polk has also collaborated with the Lark Quartet and the English Chamber Orchestra in recordings of Beach’s chamber music and piano concerto. Two of the melodies in that piano concerto were based on songs Beach composed in the late-19th century to texts by her then recent husband, Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, who ironically curtailed her career as a concert pianist but allowed her to continue on with composing. These ravishing, almost Brahms lieder-ish songs—included on this new disc of Beach songs featuring Polk accompanying baritone Patrick Mason—are settings of philosophical musings rather than romantic verse. Perhaps yet another cryptic message from the young Amy who married the 25-year-elder Beach at the age of 18. The first of these songs, “Twilight,” also seems an unusual title for a song composed by a 20 year old, but its musical pleasures transcend speculative psychology or biography.