CD AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 25
OUT IN DIGITAL AND STREAMING FORMATS TODAY
PS CLASSICS, the label dedicated to the heritage of Broadway and American popular song, has released the second solo album by Victoria Clark, the Tony Award-winning actress who opened last night on Broadway in the acclaimed new musical Kimberly Akimbo. December Songs for Voice and Orchestra – a sumptuous reinvention of Maury Yeston’s beloved song cycle, reimagined here by Clark and a 37-piece orchestra conducted by Ted Sperling and scored by Larry Hochman – is available in digital and streaming formats starting today, Friday, November 11. The CD edition will follow on Friday, November 25. The booklet features complete lyrics, in addition to liner notes by esteemed arts writer Matthew Gurewitsch. The album, produced by Bart Migal, Ted Sperling, and Maury Yeston, is currently available on Amazon.com, where it remains the #1 New Release in the “Vocal Pop” category.
You may think you know Maury Yeston’s December Songs— his poignant, richly detailed journey patterned after Schubert’s Winterreise — but you don’t. Commissioned in 1991 by Carnegie Hall in honor of its centennial celebration, Yeston responded with a seminal work for voice and piano that reflected and honored the variety of musical worlds that had long graced the Carnegie Hall stage: from classical to cabaret, from folk to pop. Since then, December Songs has received numerous performances and been translated into a dozen languages, but it has long been Yeston’s dream for these songs to gain the dimensions and power that only a full orchestra can provide.
In 2022, that dream became a reality when orchestrator Larry Hochman was commissioned to score the piece for 37 instruments, and actress and singer Victoria Clark — who had taken Broadway by storm as Alice Beane in Yeston’s Tony Award-winning Titanic and who had herself been honored with a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for The Light in the Piazza — signed on to portray the wounded woman who wanders a wintery Central Park, immersed in but ultimately triumphing over her travails.. Clark put herself through a four-month rehearsal period, determined to make the role her own, and to ensure that her journey was every bit as detailed and persuasive as if she were performing it on the stage. Upon its recording in May 2022, the results proved cathartic, as songs written to be intimate were raised to the theatrical rhetoric of virtual symphonic dimensions, yet miraculously retained all their subtleties and delicacies.
Now PS Classics, which has had the honor of collaborating with the composer on nearly a dozen of his works – including Grammy-nominated cast albums of Nine and Death Takes a Holiday and acclaimed releases of The Maury Yeston Songbook and Maury Sings Yeston – is thrilled to unveil December Songs for Voice and Orchestra, a bold reimagining of a pioneering work that triumphantly broadens its musical and emotional range. The label is also the home of Clark’s debut solo album, Fifteen Seconds of Grace.
Maury Yeston explains, “Years ago, when I accepted a commission from Carnegie Hall to compose the December Songs as part of their centennial celebration, I would never have expected that so many artists would be drawn to the work– even by artists as far away as Paris, Posnan and Hamburg. Yet what an even greater answer to a dream it has been now for these songs to have gained the dimensions and power that only a full orchestra can provide. 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. Writing something that could combine my love of musical theater and a classical form like the song cycle had been the fulfillment of a dream. But this recording thrilled me…and all of us in the studio that day in a way for which I shall be ever grateful.”
Victoria Clark noted, “When my friend Maury Yeston called me last winter on a cold February day and shared that he had a project in mind for us, I had no idea what was in store for us, and for me personally. His exquisite December Songswere due for an update of sorts, a re-thinking and new interpretation with a fresh perspective and brand new recording for solo voice and 37-piece orchestra. I had performed one or two of these songs in concerts along the way in my career, and of course knew and loved Maury from working with him on the legendary Tony Award-winning musical Titanic. He mentioned that Tommy Krasker would be overseeing the project – Tommy had expertly helmed my first solo album Fifteen Seconds of Grace – and that I could choose my conductor; it took me five seconds to suggest my dear friend and longtime collaborator Ted Sperling. With these incredible artists in place, I asked for time – a lot of time – to live with the songs, to see if there was anything I could find within myself and my voice that could bring them to life in the way they deserved. As I studied and worked, the songs began to take on a momentum of their own, guiding and teaching me about my own life — moments I had overlooked or forgotten, powerful or painful or triumphant turning points that I had brushed aside or pushed down, and it seemed that my whole life came rushing back to me like leaves falling all around me on a blustery day. 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 theater, to cabaret, and the gamut of emotion from humor, guile, regret, longing, despair, and courage. For me, December Songsis 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.”
Victoria Clark maintains a wonderfully diverse acting career, equally at home in plays, musicals, film, television, and the concert stage. Her journey as a professional actor has led her to twelve Broadway plays and musicals, several off-Broadway plays and musicals, and many films and television appearances. Highlights include The Light in the Piazza on Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater for which she was awarded the Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical, and starring roles in the original casts of Gigi (revival), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and Sister Act, for which she received Tony nominations. Ms. Clark’s films include The Happening, Wanderland (2018), Cradle Will Rock, Tickling Leo, Harvest, Main Street, and Archaeology of a Woman. Television credits include “Almost Family” (Fox, 2019-20), “Little America” (2020), “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” (2018), “Homeland,” “The Good Wife,” “Mercy,” “Law & Order,” and “Law & Order SVU.” Victoria directed Dance of Death at Classic Stage Company in 2019, Scaffolding by Jeff Blumenkratz and starring Rebecca Luker in 2018, the original musical Newton’s Cradle by Heath Saunders and Kim Saunders for the 2016 New York Musical Theater Festival, for which she won the festival’s award for Best Director. She has also directed for Texas Opera Theater, Philadelphia Opera, Chautauqua Opera, 92nd St. Y, the John Drew Theater, NAMT, and Pace University. Ms. Clark is an avid teacher and educator. She served on the faculty at Yale University and as Artist-in-Residence at Pace University in 2014 and 2020. Victoria graduated from Cum Laude from Yale University with a B.A. in Music, and attended New York University’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program as a stage director.
Maury Yeston is a composer, lyricist, author, and teacher, and moves easily between the worlds of theater, film, and academia, writing concert music, Broadway shows, and holding teaching posts as a musicologist and music theorist. In addition to winning his second Tony Award for Best Score for Broadway’s Titanic (which won five Tonys including Best Musical), Yeston won a Tony Award and two Drama Desk Awards for his music and lyrics to Broadway’s Nine (based on Fellini’s 8½). That production won four additional Tonys, including Best Musical. The Broadway revival of Nine, starring Antonio Banderas, won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Yeston’s contribution to the score for Broadway’s Grand Hotel was nominated for a Tony and two Drama Desk Awards, and the Donmar Warehouse London production of this show won the Olivier Award. His score for Phantom has received national and international acclaim and is currently in production across America and Europe and Japan. The film adaptation of Nine, directed by Rob Marshall, features Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Dame Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Fergie, and Sophia Loren, with a screenplay by Anthony Minghella and Michael Tolkin, and was nominated for five Golden Globes and four Academy Awards. Yeston was nominated for a Critics Choice and Golden Globe for Best Original Song (“Cinema Italiano”) and an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Take It All”).
PS CLASSICS, founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker and Philip Chaffin, is a nine-time Grammy Award nominee for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music, Sondheim on Sondheim, Follies, Porgy and Bess, and Fun Home. The label’s catalog includes award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by such artists as Cheyenne Jackson, Victoria Clark, StevenPasquale, Liz Callaway, Tony Yazbeck, Stephanie J. Block, Judy Kuhn, and Rebecca Luker; and restorations of long-lost musicals, including Vernon Duke’s Sweet Bye and Bye, George Gershwin’s Sweet Little Devil, and Vincent Youmans’ Through the Years. Recent releases include the two-disc set Maury Sings Yeston: The Demos, commemorating the 75th birthday of Tony Award-winning composer Maury Yeston, and Broadway star Rebecca Luker’s final album, All the Girls. www.psclassics.com
“December Songs for Voice and Orchestra” – Track List
1. December Snow
2. Where Are You Now
3. Please Let’s Not Even Say Hello
4. When Your Love Is New
5. Bookseller in the Rain
6. My Grandmother’s Love Letters
7. I Am Longing
8. I Had a Dream About You
9. By the River
10. What a Relief
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