Mark Abel’s The Dream Gallery. Its sound is one thing, its direction is another.
This isn’t easy for me, so, I’ll just list the good things vs. the not-so-good things.
First what is good about The Dream Gallery:
A very gorgeous sounding orchestra (courtesy of Sharon Lavery and the LaBrea Sinfonietta), given to seven art songs in a cycle designed as microcosms of seven different communities in California.
The soloists are all quite gifted and deliver what was asked of them as the characters of these songs.
What is not good about the album:
I absolutely don’t think that this work should have been recorded as a song cycle. Mark Abel does do very good work as a composer, but for me, this cycle, with the lush musical language and the theatrical-style singing sounds way too close to a Broadway sound, and it suggests that it would work better if it had been staged as either a musical or some sort of stage concert a la “Les Miserables”. I think if he were to re-stage it that way, I would have a better grasp of it.
It’s subject matter, California, unfortunately is lost on me as well, as I have never been to California, so the stories don’t give me a chance to be reeled in.
What do you think? Perhaps it wouldn’t be lost on you.