Virko Baley: Music for Emily Dickinson
Virko Baley was born in Ukraine in 1938, suffered a tumultuous childhood of displacement during the Second World War, and came to the USA as a refugee, with his family, in 1949, eventually making his home in Las Vegas. He has long been fascinated by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, as can be heard in the two moving works recorded here – one, Uniforms of Snow, an orchestral song-cycle setting her texts, the other a suite for violin and piano inspired by those settings. They display an acute ear for orchestral colour, a fondness for dramatic gesture and a strong sense of lyricism, occasionally inflected by distant echoes of Baley’s eastern European origins, the richness of the song-cycle placing him downstream from Mahler and Berg and the restraint of the Ten Songs without Words occasionally evoking Arvo Pärt. This recording provokes another pinch-me moment, since it brings the voice of Lucy Shelton into the Toccata fold. Virko Baley himself conducts the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and they are followed in the Ten Songs without Words by the violinist Karen Bentley Pollick and pianist Timothy Hoft.