- Format: CD:
1. Walden I. I went to the woods
2. Walden II. Sometimes, on Sundays
3. Walden III. Time is but the stream
4. Walden IV. I left the woods
5. As Long as We Live
6. Songs from the Plays: I. Bring Back the Beds
7. Songs from the Plays: II. They Say Prince Hamlet’s Found a Southern Island
8. Songs from the Plays: III. This Dancing Man Was Once The Pope
9. Songs from the Plays: IV. When I Was a Young Woman
10. Songs from the Plays: V. Your Genius Made Me Shiver
11. Songs from the Plays: VI. What Makes This Statue Noble Seeming?
12. Songs from the Plays: VII. You Want a Social Life, With Friends
Composed by Greg Spears (1-4)/Missy Mazzoli (5)/Mason Bates (6-12)
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Label: Bright Shiny Things
“…similarly smartly programmed is Alburnum, Brian Mulligan’s latest recital of song cycles by Gregory Spears and Mason Bates framing a solo song by Missy Mazzoli. The album opens with Spear’s Walden, a setting of four Thoreau texts that chart the 19th-century American transcendentalist’s self-imposed exile and ultimate return to society. Oscillating rhythms, insistent two-note melodies, and warmly open harmonies capture the poet’s longed-for simplicity. Mulligan’s beefy, immaculately focused baritone is ideal, capturing the music’s inherent breeziness and relishing the nuances of the sophisticated poetry.
Mazzoli’s As Long as We Live, a setting from Whitman’s Song of the Open Road, is the perfect codicil to the Thoreau. In just under four minutes, she builds unbearable tension in a plea for love and commitment. Mulligan’s unswerving, appropriately strident performance ends in an anguished, unaccompanied cry of “Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”
Bates’s Songs from the Plays comes as a relief from all that angst, though the music often has a serious intent. The texts by New York poet Kenneth Koch deal with love, friendship, and art. They certainly inspire Bates, whose settings teem with good-humored fantasy and affecting emotion while teetering at times on the edges of tonality.
Mulligan enters fully into each miniature scenario, from the bittersweet “Bring Back the Beds” to the witty “They Say Prince Hamlet’s Found a Southern Island,” which imagines Shakespeare’s moody Dane relaxing on a sun-kissed beach and King Lear as an in-demand ivy league university lecturer.”
“Mulligan uses the spectrum of his vibrant artistry to penetrate the expressive depths of these songs. Whether the music calls for stalwart declamation or hushed utterance, the baritone is in handsome command.”
“Brian Mulligan’s second solo album features world-premiere recordings of two song cycles written for him by Gregory Spears and Mason Bates and a newly adapted one by Missy Mazzoli. The title refers to the layer of soft, new and living wood in the trunk of a tree that grows between the protective bark and the firmer, older heartwood. With texts and poems by Thoreau, Whitman and Kenneth Koch, the album explores themes of youth, rejuvenation and possibility but also ambiguity, uncertainty and evanescence symbolized by the alburnum, which will one day mature and harden. Throughout these selections, Mulligan’s endlessly elastic dramatic baritone pulses with dual strength and vulnerability that, coupled with pianist Timothy Long’s virtuoso and nuanced playing, are thrilling and captivating…”
Opera News’ CRITIC’S CHOICE
Puccini: Le Willis
- Format: CD:
“Brian Mulligan offered a rounded baritone with impressive evenness throughout the registers…his aria proper showed off a lovely legato.”
Kevin W Ng, Bachtrack
“As Guglielmo, Brian Mulligan sang with resonance and bite in a role that tests the singer at both ends of a very wide range”.
Alexander Campbell, Classical Source
“Puccini’s writing when all three characters sing together is particularly skillful, and here was brought to the full by Brian Mulligan’s strong and assertive baritone as Guglielmo, Arsen Soghomonyan’s dark but exceptionally versatile tenor as Roberto, and Ermonela Jaho’s highly committed and emotional performance as Anna.”
Sam Smith, Music OMH
- Format: CD:
From Bridge Records:
Brian Mulligan’s second solo album released by Bridge Records. The album features beloved songs of the early twentieth century made popular by great American baritones of the past. Brian Mulligan and pianist Craig Rutenberg have curated this program to represent a breadth of composers and musical styles, honoring an incredible period of music in America.
“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.
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.” –David Shengold
Dominick Argento: The Andrée Expedition
- Format: CD:
“Mulligan has a thrilling quality in his voice, an open-throated sound that’s masculine, honest, and completely appealing; his is an exhilarating balance between constant beauty and toeing a risky edge. There’s something accessible about his approach to the texts in Argento’s songs; in Mulligan’s voice they have an “all-American” quality, despite the texts’ origins in Swedish explorers and English writers.”