For a Look or a Touch

“The Seed of Dream,” Lori’s Holocaust-themed song cycle based on the poetry of Vilna Ghetto survivor Abraham Sutzkever, was commissioned by Music of Remembrance, and released in April, 2008 on the CD For a Look or a Touch (AmazoniTunes). Baritone Erich Parce, cellist Amos Yang and pianist Mina Miller perform Lori’s work, which Dr. Sharon Mabry, in The Journal of Singing, declared “a masterpiece not to be missed!”

Also on the CD is Jake Heggie’s song cycle “For A Look or A Touch” and Gerard Schwarz’ In Memoriam, scored for solo cello and string quartet.

“Laitman has an uncommon ability to breathe new life into a text with her music without obscuring its original essence, and she demonstrates that sensitivity here to a remarkable degree….Baritone Erich Parce sings these songs with understanding and great care, and he has invaluable collaborators in MOR founder Mina Miller at the piano and Amos Yang on cello. These three musicians achieve remarkable magic here and these beautiful and important songs deserve nothing less.” (The Journal of Singing)

It is rare when a piece of music can be called a masterpiece. The plausibility of using such a term creates skepticism and begs for proof. If not proof, the designation yearns for a full explanation, at least. Such a work must display the highest level of compositional skill and excellence without pretense or artificiality of techniques in its creation. It should impart a vivid depiction of its aesthetic intent and cause the listener to be forever changed for having experienced it. Further, the consequence of its performance should be a demand that it be repeated frequently, since its absence would diminish the lives of all potential listeners.

The American song composer, Lori Laitman, has been lauded by reviewers as one of the most extraordinary song composers working today, likening her to Ned Rorem. She has an innate ability to capture the essence of textual meaning, a keen perception of vocal nuance, and a lavish intellectual and musical vocabulary that she uses with a facile ease. It was with all of these extraordinary skills that she created a magnificent song cycle called The Seed of Dream…Each of the five songs is uniquely crafted to embody the textual expression with descriptive melodies, harmonic underpinnings, and sympathetic timbres that identify even the subtlest, changeable emotions…Laitman knows how to get the very best from the baritone voice, giving it opportunities to use a full range of dynamics and allowing it to have heights of drama, lyric lines, as well as delicacy of articulation and interpretation…The use of the cello as a conversationalist with the voice and piano is brilliant and provides intense emotion and extraordinarily refined color changes through the piece…This cycle is indeed a masterpiece that should not be missed! (Dr. Sharon Mabry, The Journal of Singing, September/October 2007).

The Holocaust dominates another song series on this disc, The Seed of Dream, based on Yiddish poems written in Nazi-occupied Lithuania by Abraham Sutzkever. Composer Lori Laitman has set them with warmth and variety for baritone, cello and piano…it is hard to resist the harsh irony of “A Load of Shoes,” Laitman’s fast, klezmer-tinted waltz to the poet’s observation of piles of ownerless shoes “transported from Vilna to Berlin.” (William Braun, Opera News, October 2008).