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Mira J. SPEKTOR (b. 1928)
Summer & Winter Songs
Lyrics & poems by various writers, including Mira J. Spektor
Maeve Höglund (soprano)
Jean-Paul Björlin (piano & tenor)
rec. 2018, Sean Swinney Recording, New York, USA

I had not come across the name of Mira J. Spektor before. She is one of many composers of Jewish heritage whose family story is a typical one of forced displacement. Her parents left Lithuania to avoid pogroms. They were living in Berlin when Mira was born, and moved to Paris in 1938 before the infamous Kristallnacht took place. She spent a year at school in Paris before the family were obliged to move again when it became obvious that France was just as dangerous. They sailed for the US in 1939. There the family were safe at last. The innate talents Mira was gifted with began to blossom. Even while at high school, she had penned a musical in which she also sang. Her compositions include a number of chamber operas, musicals, and many songs of which the present disc is an example.

The first thing that struck me was the beautifully tonal quality of these songs, and a winning lyricism that is as echt as it is engaging. In this recording the songs, several of them to words by the composer, are very much helped along by the crystalline voice of Maeve Höglund, a singer with wonderfully clear diction that makes every word tell. There is also an infectious joy in the songs that lifts the spirits. I especially enjoyed the three songs to words by Goethe – the music makes the most of the great German’s poetry – and the song to words she wrote in French. With the German texts as well as the French, the words are absolutely clear to follow.

The two songs Take Me Home Tonight and Call Me are both light musical theatre songs. The first comes from both a film and a musical. It shows Spektor’s penchant for the theatrical genre that she demonstrated from her early school days. Similarly light songs include Paracheech Tea and Turn Around, as well as You Were There and Give Me Time. The last two are duets with pianist-tenor Jean-Paul Björlin. In all the songs, Spektor’s sense of lyricism sparkles, along with her wit and general sense of fun. As I said, Maeve Höglund’s voice is a joy to hear. Her pianist and tenor accompanist gives her firm support in a selection of songs that makes you want to hear more of what Mira J. Spektor has to say.

Steve Arloff

1. White Road of Summer [1:54]
2. Quiet [2:35]
3. Have Song Will Travel [3:03]
Three German Songs on Poems by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
4. Geheimnis (Secret) [1:48]
5. So lasst mich scheinen (So Let Me Seem) [2:04]
6. Der Musensohn (The Poet) [2:44]
7. Rain Song [2:02]
8. Sunday Psalm [2:56]
9. Il neige dans mon coeur [1:59]
10. Take Me Home Tonight [3:20]
11. When We Two Parted [1:58]
12. Call Me [2:19]
13. Winter Lullaby [1:44]
14. Paracheech Tea [2:01]
15. Indian Summer [2:05]
16. Turn Around [2:15]
17. You Were There [3:14]
18. Give Me Time [1:47]

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