Thomas Hampson's new recording Wondrous Free is the Full Rotation Album of the Week. It includes over 30 American songs by composers from Charles Ives to Leonard Bernstein. Tune in all week to hear portions of the album.
American art song — a diverse genre that includes elements of spirituals, slave songs, jazz, blues, hymns and elegies — is more than 250 years old. Most scholars believe it dates back to Francis Hopkinson's 1759 song “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free.” Hopkinson was not only a composer but one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and a friend of George Washington. His melody opens Thomas Hampson’s 22-song collection
At 54, Hampson remains a valued baritone on the world’s great opera stages but he's become increasingly immersed in American song. He’s given concert tours, begun a series of recordings, and is at work an archival project at the Library of Congress.
This album traces various strands of American song that developed while the United States found its cultural identity, including the ballads of Stephen Foster (“Nelly Was a Lady” and “Hard Times”) the iconoclastic lieder of Charles Ives (the powerful World War I lament “In Flanders Fields”), the neglected songs of Paul Bowles (the bluesy "Sugar in the Cane"), and works by Leonard Bernstein and contemporary New Yorker Jay Ungar. Throughout, Hampson shows the remarkable range of his voice, one that can deliver clarion power and impossible pianissimos.
New York audiences will have several opportunities to hear Hampson this season as he becomes the first artist in residence at the New York Philharmonic in November.