Mark Abel’s critically heralded previous release on Delos, the orchestral cycle The Dream Gallery, signaled a radical and culturally relevant new approach to the American art song. With Terrain of the Heart, Abel takes a fresh look at the idiom while working within the genre’s more traditional framework: as a recital vehicle for solo voice and piano. Abel’s hard-hitting lyrics leave a lasting impression. They burrow all the deeper into one’s consciousness when amplified by his sophisticated musical fusion of classical and rock, aimed at broad—minded listeners—classically couth or not.
Of the three cycles offered, The Dark-Eyed Chameleon radiates particularly intense personal emotion, as it chronicles the agonizing breakup of a love affair. Rainbow Songs, while thematically diverse, offer a striking unity of sentiment and colorful musical language. The only cycle here setting texts by another poet is Five Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, exploring the German master’s often unfathomable and mysterious inner visions. Sopranos Jamie Chamberlin and Ariel Pisturino, and pianist Victoria Kirsch provide particularly committed and convincing performances.