Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


Selected Songs
She Walks in Beauty (1951) (2.25) Venilia (1922) (1:34) At Christmas Time (1917) (1 :32)
with Sylvia Buccelli, piano

Letter to a Composer (1995) (8:34)
Danielle Woerner with Marcia Gates, flute; Jean Kopperud, clarinet, Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Quartet (HVPSQ)

Selections from Nine Songs to Poems of Emily Dickinson (1938-51) Our share of night to bear (.58) Hope is the thing with feathers (1.35) I felt a cleavage in my mind (.37)
with Sylvia Buccelli, piano

Images of Man (1994)
The Universal Man (1.58) Behold Eternal Death (2:45) Compell the Poor (2:14) I am Weary (3:02) O Prince of Light (2:32) It Is an Easy Thing (3:03) Male and Female (3:08) Rise from the Dews of Death (4:19)
with Marcia Gates, flute; Susan Seligman, cello; Robert Starer, piano

Suite for Soprano and Flute (1936-37) +
Night Song (4:03) Dawn Piece (1:02) Morning Song (2:34) Evening Song (2:12)
with Patricia Spencer, flute

The Ideal Self (1981) (4:05)
with Marcia Gates, flute; Robert Starer, piano

Selected songs to poems of William Blake

Love's Secret (1949) (1:52) Ah! Sunflower (1984) (1.57) The Little Vagabond (1980) (2:07)
with Sylvia Buccelli, piano

The Soundless Song (1923)
String Quartet (6:08) Moonlight (1:31) String Quartet (1:55) The Silent Voice (1:47) Flute and Clarinet (:23) The Soundless Song (2.09)
with Marcia Gates, flute; Jean Kopperud, clarinet; Sylvia Buccelli, piano; HVPSQ

Transience (1922) (1.58)
with Sylvia Buccelli, piano
Recorded Nov. 1997 & Jan 1998 at the Make-Believe Ballroom, W. Shokan, NY Exec. Producer: Danielle Woerner Producer: Baikida Carroll Engineer: Tom Mark PARNASSUS PACD96-025 [77:14]


The soprano Danielle Woerner has been associated with the songs of Otto Luening and Robert Starer since the 1980s.

Neither name is all that familiar so here is an introduction taken from the insert booklet.

Starer was born in Vienna in 1924. In 1938 he emigrated to Israel disrupting his studies at the State Academy in Vienna. In World War 2 he served with the RAF in North Africa. In the late 1940s he came to the USA studying with Copland and becoming a US citizen in 1957. I recall first encountering his name when I came across the Pye LP of the Vaughan Williams Suite for viola and orchestra. This coupled a similarly specified work by Starer.

Otto Luening was of German immigrant extraction - born in Milwaukee. He died in New York City in 1996. His reputation is as a pioneer of electronic music and avant-garderie. There are 300 works some showcasing his own instrument, the flute. His pupils include Joan Tower, John Corigliano and Charles Wuorinen.

Woerner's voice is gently contoured but vibrantly powerful. There is a hint of Dawn Upshaw about her or even Cathy Berberian (at least when she was in fine voice as in the recording of the Berio Folksongs). Woerner is all these songs demand: arch, humorous and impassioned.

The Luening Dickinson and Blake settings and the first three (and last) songs on the disc are simple and heartfelt. About them there is the air of the Sunday at-home (a fortunate household indeed), the sampler and the hymnal but with a vestigial twist of lemon in the harmonies. The fall and rise of the melodies recalls the music used in the major documentary on the history of the American Civil War. If you know Arthur Bliss's Seven American Poems you will know what to expect. Starer's declamatory Images of Man reminded me of nothing so much as Alan Bush's Voice of the Prophets; the latter soon to appear on a British Music Society CD with songs of Alan Rawsthorne and Gerard Schurmann. I wonder if Starer knew Bush's music. The atmosphere is more sour in this cycle than in the touchingly self-deprecating major setting of Letter to a Composer. The Ideal Self is extracted from Starer's opera Apollonia - a sort of aria beneath Frank Bridge's impressionistic Willow. The 1937 Luening Suite can be compared with Medtner's Sonata-Vocalise, Gliere's Concerto, Rachmaninov's Vocalise, John Foulds' Lyra Celtica and R S Coke's two vocalising concertos. The soprano vocalises on syllables. There are no words. There are suggestions of Oriental, Red Indian and Irish influences in the music - not surprisingly the work was recorded by Henry Cowell's New Music Quarterly Recordings label in 1939. It is daring piece even now. The stretches of string quartet writing in Luening's Soundless Song are typical of Frank Bridge in his later post-Great War phase and also of the desolation of emotions of Warlock and Van Dieren. There are parallels to be drawn with the vocal writing in Havergal Brian's Symphony No. 5 Wine of Summer. Interesting to note the variety of style adopted by Luening ranging from early Americana simplicity to an adventurous dissonance.

The 24 page insert booklet is in English only. It covers, in considerable depth, a biography of the two composers, Danielle's introduction to the songs, the full texts (all songs are in English) and the usual artist profiles.

Apologies for the long head-note but I wanted to log all the songs and their details.

Collectors of twentieth century song will need this disc which is superbly documented and warmly recorded. Parnassus and Woerner have done each other, the composers and the listeners, proud. I hope that Woerner will go on to record other rare Americana. I am now left deeply intrigued by the other music of both Starer and Luening.


Rob Barnett

Management for Danielle Woerner:
Woodlark Productions
PO Box 311, Woodstock NY 12498
(914) 247-9464

Parnassus Records:
PO Box 493, Woodstock NY 12498
(914) 246-3332


Rob Barnett

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