Connection: Three Song Cycles of Jake Heggie

Naxos American Classics Label
Released June 2014

with Kathleen Tagg

Heart Songs: An American Medley

Released November 2021

with Jonathan K. Parks, James Lowe, Sean Harkness, Justin Vance, Jeanette Stenson, Sean Murphy, and Mike Lunoe

Heart Songs: An American Medley

The emotional story of Heart Songs is that of a woman reflecting upon her life, her loves, and herself. Starting with the innocence of childhood, the realization as an adult that she wants more out of life, the joy of new love (and SEX!), and the loss of love, her journey culminates in the acceptance that what she really needs is to love herself. And she does just that.

The musical story of Heart Songs is the weaving together of two musical genres that are very near and dear to my heart: Classical American Art Song and the Great American Songbook. My specialty as a classical singer was American Art Song which lead me to record my first CD, Connection: The Song Cycles of Jake Heggie for the Naxos American Classics Label. I love to champion works of living composers and the songs on this album by Ricky Ian Gordon, Jake Heggie, William Bolcom, Maury Yeston, and Ellen Mandel are the perfect examples of why I love this genre so much. They are masterpieces of poignant story-telling in a beautifully accessible musical language that can easily share a table with popular song and jazz.

Featuring Jonathan K. Parks (piano), James Lowe (piano), Sean Harkness (guitar), Justin Vance (clarinet/tenor sax), Jeanette Stenson (cello), Sean Murphy (bass), and Mike Lunoe (drum set/percussion)

Also available on iTunes and Amazon.com and streaming on Spotify and other popular streaming services

Physical CD: $15 + $5 shipping in the US

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Naxos American Classics Label
“Connection: Three Song Cycles of Jake Heggie”

Famed for his operatic music, Jake Heggie has always been a devoted and prolific songwriter. Three early song cycles for soprano and piano are featured in this release, each cycle exploring the many varied facets of the three women depicted, including Ophelia and Eve. Each was written for a specific singer and they all reflect Heggie’s personal and exciting lexicon of musical influences, ranging from folk and jazz, to art song and musical theater.

The three cycles are:

Natural Selection (1997)
Songs and Sonnets to Ophelia (1999)
Eve-Song (1996) – *first complete recording of this cycle

Also available on iTunes and Amazon.com

Physical CD: $15 + $5 shipping in the US

Quanties can be changed in the shopping cart

Digital Download: $15 

Quanties can be changed in the shopping cart

Reviews

“Soprano Regina Zona turns in splendid performances in all songs. She adapts to the chameleonic character of the songs with seeming ease, never missing a dramatic turn or falling short on a vocal challenge. Indeed, she hits the plentiful high notes with confidence and portrays the characters here with an unerring sense for their emotional state.”

Robert Cummings

www.classical.net

“Jake Heggie composed these song cycles in the late 1990s, during his tenure as staff writer for San Francisco Opera. Each was written for a different soprano, all Adler Fellows, but here all three are given life by soprano Regina Zona…[In] “Animal Passion” her tone becomes appealingly ripe as she expresses her awakening sexuality…Zona is at her best in lively numbers like these, where her voice takes on added focus, and her direct and slyly self-knowing delivery is the driving force.”

Joanne Sydney Lessner

Opera News

Creation opens with an insistent piano motif. When soprano, Regina Zona enters she has a fine, extremely musical voice…After a piano flourish that opens Animal Passion, the soprano enters in this lively setting with a tango rhythm. There is some particularly attractive piano writing. Regina Zona is really terrific in this song, one that really suits her voice. She gives much passion in the last line.Zona does a tremendous job with Alas! Alack! another faster song that again suits her voice so well. This is an amusing text which the soprano picks up so well….

Eve-Song (1996), a setting of texts by Philip Little (b.1950), offers a modern perspective on the biblical Eve. My Name opens gently as the soprano, Regina Zona vocalises with the piano before the words ‘Eve, Eve…’ subtly appear. There is fine, sensitive playing from Kathleen Tagg as well as beautifully shaped singing from Zona, whose lower textures are particularly fine. The song rises in drama with Heggie’s constant changes of rhythm, before the dissonant, quiet conclusion.

An undulating piano theme opens Even in this gentle setting. Regina Zona is lovely in her restrained beautiful, sensitive singing. Good is more upbeat with a syncopated piano rhythm well handled by Zona with fine control and understanding of the text.

Heggie’s way with rhythm works extremely well again in Listen, a setting that creates a kind of sensuousness around the words ‘My entire body ripples up and down…’ Snake introduces more jazz rhythms where Zona is in her element, handling the rhythms with real style and panache in this well conceived setting of the words ‘…Sweet, sour, salty, bitter. And the taste of air, Of rottenness.’”

Bruce Reader

The Classical Reviewer