Brian Mulligan’s second solo recording Old Fashioned, featuring beloved songs of the early twentieth century, was selected as a Critics Choice by Opera Now in May, and by Opera News in August. Released by Bridge Records, Mulligan and pianist Craig Rutenberg curated this program to represent a breadth of composers and musical styles, honoring an incredible period of music in America. Purchase links and more information about Old Fashioned is available via Brian’s Recordings.
“The home page of Brian Mulligan’s website highlights a review stating that he possesses ‘a voice that rich, secure, and really, really big’, and I am happy to concur – it is indeed a very generous and at times noble baritone. This recording is very forward in its sound, but I can confirm that heard live (as in Puccini’s Le Villi a few months ago in London), Mulligan’s voice is indeed pretty sizeable. In Old Fashioned he performs songs made popular by the great American baritones of the 20th century, such as Nelson Eddy, Lawrence Tibbett and Leonard Warren, sailing through them from a whisper to a roar. He sounds very comfortable in this repertoire, from the ardent romanticism of d’Hardelot’s Because to the goonish On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, famously performed by Laurel and Hardy. So it is not claiming to hit the intellectual heights, but it is hugely enjoyable. Mulligan is abetted by his skillful pianist, Craig Rutenberg, who as well as providing endless spread chords also makes his own spontaneous vocal exclamation of joy in one song – how Mulligan keeps singing I don’t know; it certainly made me laugh out loud.” ~Opera Now
“The CD presents a fine selection of the kind of concert song that has long since vanished from the active repertory, with a style floating somewhere between popular and semi-classical. These numbers predate the universal use of microphones and require good, solid technique.
Modern audiences have heard a few of these numbers in concerts by Thomas Hampson or Nathan Gunn, but Mulligan offers a more oaken and substantial timbre, recalling American singers such as Richard Bonelli and Robert Weede…Mulligan’s baritone is generally firm and up to the challenges of dynamics and range this repertory demands.
The sentimental “Roses of Picardy” (1916) stands out for effective intimacy, as does the familiar stanzaic Romberg chestnut.
Mulligan delivers the words with admirable clarity; the texts are available on his website. Ironically, his nostalgic project should prove a welcome novelty for many listeners.” ~Opera News