The Ocean of Eternity

Lori’s latest CD, The Ocean of Eternity, was released on Acis on March 29, 2022. The album features renowned artists in several world premiere recordings. The centerpiece is The Ocean of Eternity, scored for the unusual combination of soprano, soprano saxophone and piano. This cycle about mortality sets a poem by Anne Ranasinghe, a German Jew who escaped the Holocaust and eventually settled in Sri Lanka. New arrangements of Vedem Songs tell the story of the boys imprisoned in the Terezin Concentration Camp, while excerpts from Ludlow, Laitman’s opera with librettist David Mason, showcase America’s tragic treatment of immigrants. Throughout the album, with her signature gift for melody, Laitman illuminates the classic poetry of Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and William Butler Yeats; Holocaust poetry by Petr Ginz, Hanuš Hachenburg and Zdeněk Ornest; and contemporary works by Annie Finch, Dana Gioia, Jennifer Reeser, A. E. Stallings, and Diane Thiel. 

Artists featured are sopranos Nicole Cabell, Alisa Jordheim, Maureen McKay, Patrice Michaels and Yungee Rhie; mezzo-soprano Katie Hannigan; baritone Daniel Belcher; violinist Tarn Travers; saxophonist Michael Couper; and pianists Lori Laitman, ChoEun Lee, Tze-Wen (Julia) Lin and Andrew Rosenblum.

“Despite utilizing conventional compositional techniques, her unique voice always shines through; her music has an unmistakable sense of identity, regardless of the stylistic elements employed. She writes with masterful skill in many styles and emotional atmospheres. [T]his is a fine look at the music of Lori Laitman. It should appeal to all who love art song, and the performers are uniformly first rate.”

Opera News, October 2022

Lori Laitman’s works are often emotional in expression with elements of political or social comment. The excerpted songs from her oratorio Vedem (2010, set in Terezín), and the opera Ludlow (2012, inspired by a massacre of immigrants in the Colorado town in 1914), are eloquent testimony of that side of her creative persona. There is humour aplenty, too, as in the concluding set Dear Edna…Delicacy and ingenuity combine in the triptych Fresh Patterns…Most delightful of all is The Apple Orchard (2004), a melodic gem. 

Gramophone Magazine, July 2022

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme”, wrote Herman Melville in reference to Moby-Dick. That line came to mind as I thought of how the overwhelmingly mighty theme of the Holocaust has led Lori Laitman to produce a mighty body of compositions that make its tragic horror palpable…Laitman has a knack for selecting good texts and setting them to music in ways that mirror so well their patterns and cadences… The theme of mortality weaves its way through this gripping and thought-provoking program in a variety of ways with each song amplifying its message.

American Record Guide, July/August 2022

Lori Laitman has composed over 300 art songs; it is so clearly where she is most comfortable and where her heart lies. In this new CD, The Ocean of Eternity, there is an ease of expression here that few achieve, partly the result of her full absorption of her chosen texts, partly the result of a sort of free- flow melody…Laitman’s opera Ludlow is a tale of immigrants whose cause climaxed in a 1914 massacre in Colorado; more than two dozen innocent people were killed. All arias are taken from the first act…Laitman invokes nostalgia so well: bitter-sweet, certainly; saccharine-sweet, never… Fresh Patterns combines Dickinson’s “It’s All I Have To Bring Today” and Annie Finch’s “Letter to Emily Dickinson”… Hearing the two together is fascinating, as well as a virtuoso compositional feat… Laitman herself plays on her setting of W. B. Yeats’s “When You Are Old,” a lovely setting fully honored by McKay’s beautiful realization…It’s fascinating to hear the loving way Laitman delivers her own piano writing… The “Edna” of Laitman’s short song cycle Dear Edna refers to the poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay… Laitman’s way of working with humor is really somewhat delicious, probably because she never sacrifices depth for a titter. A beautiful selection of Laitman songs, this disc is an absolute gift to all lovers of the voice. 

Fanfare Magazine, July 2022

Laitman’s customary gift for melody is in full force throughout, as is her practice of tailoring music and tone to the character of the text. To that end, the material extends from majestic and lyrical expressions to ones sprinkled with humour and irreverence., July 2022.

The Ocean of Eternity may well be the finest yet of Lori Laitman’s albums of art song – and never do I remember being more beautifully drawn into a listening experience than I was with the opening of the first track of this album (“Memories of Prague,” from Vedem Songs). The album as a whole more than lives up to that promise. Those who know Laitman’s music will find her characteristic mixture of poetic insight, inexhaustible imagination, sonorous beauty, skillful writing for the voices and instruments, and of course humor – this sometimes philosophically tinged. The performances are uniformly stunning and the album’s net effect is perhaps best summed up as: “let us have more soon, please.” It’s an album I’m glad to have as a part of my musical experience, to carry around as part of my musical self.   

John Michael Cooper,

There seems to be no limit to the wellspring of Lori Laitman’s compositional inspiration…Every facet of Laitman’s genius is on vivid display here, but the disk especially celebrates her bountiful, wide-ranging imagination. Whatever the task, challenge or opportunity may be, Laitman engages with it in a way that scrupulously serves the text while shedding new and illuminating light on the world and the human condition. Her music always sounds completely fresh and new.

Gregory Berg, The Journal of Singing, November/December 2022.

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