The Light in the Piazza Tony winner and current Broadway Kimberly Akimbo star Victoria Clark has recorded an album of Maury Yeston's song cycle December Songs, newly orchestrated for a 37-piece orchestra by Larry Hochman with Tony winner Ted Sperling conducting.
Get an exclusive first listen to "I Am Longing" from the upcoming P.S. Classics release above.
December Songs will be available for streaming and digital purchase November 11 and as a CD November 25. Pre-order here.
“It’s easily my favorite track," says P.S. Classics Executive Producer Tommy Krasker of the performance. "Even after the album was put to bed, I kept listening to it repeatedly for pure pleasure. I’ve never heard an ‘I Am Longing’ like Vicki’s, and part of that is the intense rehearsal period that she put herself through for months before heading into the recording studio, and part is the emotional range that a 37-piece orchestral accompaniment permits. Vicki sings that first stanza like her thoughts are just forming, like they’re coming haltingly. Maury gave her full permission to shape the rhythms in whatever way her instincts suggested. And then at the end of the first stanza, once her thoughts are fully formed, that becomes her announcement to the world. Her vocal and emotional assurance grows, as the orchestra soars under her, then her performance gains an element of desperation, as the orchestra grows almost defiant—then it all dissolves into a quiet expression of sadness and defeat. I think Vicki’s musical and dramatic arc is breathtaking, and could she have achieved those precise results with just a piano under her? I doubt it. The orchestra inspired and unleashed her, and ultimately reinvented this song cycle.”
The album is produced by Bart Migal, Sperling, and Yeston.
Yeston’s December Songs, patterned after Schubert’s Winterreise, was commissioned in 1991 by Carnegie Hall for Andrea Marcovicci, who can be heard on the original recording, with piano-only accompaniment. For the new album, Broadway favorite Clark put herself through a four-month rehearsal period to ensure that her journey was as detailed as if she were performing it on the stage. That rehearsal process culminated with Clark recording demos of her take on the songs for orchestrator Hochman so that the arrangements could be tailored to her performance.
Yeston says, “The excitement of the sessions at DiMenna Studio was palpable. Knowing these songs only with piano accompaniment, our jaws dropped as Ted Sperling gave the downbeat, the brass came in triple forte, and Vicki began her journey with such stunning artistry. It transformed what had been chamber music to something that I felt, as a composer, so new I could never have anticipated it. Things I had written to be intimate somehow became raised to the theatrical rhetoric of virtual symphonic dimensions, yet somehow retaining still their subtleties and delicacies."
Clark adds, “In a rare experience in our current age, we went into the studio for four days, and I recorded live with the orchestra playing Larry Hochman’s magical orchestrations. The cycle celebrates a diversity of styles, from classical, to contemporary musical theatre, to cabaret, and the gamut of emotion from humor, guile, regret, longing, despair, and courage. For me, December Songs is about grace, acceptance, and ultimately forgiveness, as a woman in the winter of her journey puts the pieces of her life back together again and finds joy and relief once more in this moment. There is no question that recording this album was one of the greatest gifts of my professional life.”
Clark won Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her portrayal of Margaret Johnson in the Lincoln Center Theater production of the Tony-winning The Light in the Piazza. She was also Tony-nominated for her work in Gigi, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Sister Act.