Compact Disc - Benchmark Series No. 1
With this recording, these inimitable tenors break new ground. In arranging these operatic selections for piano quartet, they emphasize intimacy and emotional depth, showing that these singers are committed to not only to exploring the range of their voices, but also to the range of their music.
This high-quality studio process allows the singers to discover a greater timbral and dynamic range than often afforded them in concert halls. This sense of economy harvests the intimacy of chamber music using operatic material, revitalizing well-known selections such as “La donna é mobile” along with a range of historically demanding tenor arias.
Whether singing together or separately, there is no doubt of Gulley and Granner’s distinct ease and lyricism even as they passionately take on selections such as “Nessun dorma.” Ben Gulley soars in “Ah! mes amis,” a double-aria, highlighting his effortless control over an exceedingly demanding piece. Nathan Granner’s infinite legato oozes passion, emphasizing the text and music’s tonal moodiness. Gulley and Granner’s clear friendship based on good humor and mutual respect.
On stage, this relationship expands, allowing them to connect personally with their audiences. As they tell their stories they invite both seasoned listeners and newcomers to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of classical music. Yet it is the instrumentalists, especially the string players, who are given more liberties in these chamber arrangements.
These collaborative arrangements by Kirt Mosier, Michalis Koutsoupides and Jesse Lynch, led by Elizabeth Suh Lane deliberately avoid a wall of sound, in order to showcase the musical dialogue involved in each selection. For instance, the players imbue Werther’s monologue “Pourquoi me réveiller” with a close-quarters tenseness, which in combination with added harmonies over key lines transforms this solo into a technically masterful duet, underscoring the split in Werther’s tragic Romantic character.
Michalis Koutsoupides - viola, arrangement
Sascha Groschang of The Wires - Cello
Jesse Lynch - piano, supplimental arrangement
Recorded at Soundtrek Studios in Kansas City
Justin Wilson - engineer
Bob Beck of UMKC Conservatory of Music - editing/ mixing
Neil Simpson of Chapman Recording - mastering
Thanks to our many fans who stepped up and contributed through indiegogo.com to help make this album, in particular K. Kesselring, Ed and Sally Ingram and our loving families. Thank you for your generous support.