Louis Rosen composer/songwriter/librettist/musician/author/educator started composing for theater right out of music conservatory in 1977. The artist has written more than thirty scores for various Broadway, Off Broadway and regional productions. This recording features piano music – sometimes excerpted from longer suites, created for theater.
Having reviewed Rosen’s music forays into other genres, listened to a great deal of it, and written a profile on the artist (see the story), I admit to being surprised by these pieces. Each and every one is immensely evocative. I found myself rife with impressions, conjuring scenarios. Herein some of them:
Act One Suite is drawn from a score written for the Lincoln Center Production of James Lapine’s Act One, based on the autobiography of playwright/director Moss Hart. The six pieces would make a wonderful dance. I heard: 1. Gershwinesque; cool, sinewy, dark 2. Deeply sighed dusk, thoughtful, melancholy, languid 3. Zoot-suited Harlem street scene; tilted hats, clean spats, dandies and dames sashay 4. Geometric, jigsaw, action/reaction 5. Hip-swinging, dancing drunk, wet streets, blinking lights 6. Broadway Babies.
Waltzes for Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Portland Stage Company) and Eric Overmeyer’s On the Verge (The Huntington Theater, Boston) offer two very different takes. The O’Neill piece is delicate, haunting, half way between dream and waking; handmade lace, crystal reflections from a heavy chandelier, sadness. The one for Verge is filled with intention/anticipation, bobbing and ducking, on the move; a lighter parenthesis – I imagined a child imitating an adult, followed by the original figure engulfed in a stream of humanity.
Earlier waltzes are from Rosen’s first assignment, Romeo and Juliet (The Oak Park, Illinois Festival Theater) and then a composition for the First Young Playwrights Festival in New York City. To me, the first is a broken doll dancing with a sympathetic soldier who fell in love before he saw she was crippled – exhilarating, but tough. The second is lighter-romantic, dappled, yet questioning.
There are more. I recommend listening with eyes closed. My single caveat is that some of these are not long enough. One just gets enmeshed and the image fades. A highly pleasurable CD showcasing diverse influences, talent, and imagination.