Reviews for Solo Vocal / Song Cycles

  Apollo Circling  (1972)       Reviews  :::  Ordering information
Spec. high voice (c1-c3); 14:30; titles are So Long; The Moon Comes; You Lean Back; You Hang Mysteriously; although Perera describes these as "four lyric songs," there is considerable drama here; primarily declamatory, disjunct with many difficult high notes; technically, musically, and interpretively difficult; atonal, with tonal areas; stark and intense, with a cold, eerie opening and impassioned close; on the experience of the astronauts'visit to the moon; an evocative, unusual, powerful contemporary cycle; recorded by D'Armand.
A Singer's Guide to the American Art Song 1870-1980
by Victoria Etnier Villamil (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993)

Somehow, Ronald Perera has devised a set of songs, almost a cycle, that captures and conveys the cold, lonely, earth-longing, stream-of-thought text by James Dickey ("For the First Manned Moon Orbit," 1969).... The means by which Perera achieves success in setting Dickey's text is a fascinating study in itself. He requires of the singer a two-octave range (from C to C2) with the flexibility to negotiate sometimes angular lines, sustained notes, and sudden sharply contrasting dynamic colors. In addition, he must meet the challenge of maintaining interest and bridging the gaps in the often-segmented melodic phrases. For the pianist there are long, stark single notes or chords sometimes interrupted by computer-like twittering rhythms, passages of pointillistic complexity, utilization of the entire scope and color spectrum of the keyboard, a marvelous interplay of the three pedals, and vital, driving ostinato figures that build to striking climaxes. The composer assists both artists with a generous supply of the usual musical road signs in Italian as well as with many evocative mood indications: cold, without expression, agitated, controlled, hushed, fantastic, languid, like drops, with tenderness, with controlled excitement, warm, lyric, passionately, etc. All of these reveal a song-writer of sensitive imagination, yet one who knows what he wants and how, by craft, to obtain it. This is music of calculated spontaneity that commands the listener's attention... Congratulations are due Ronald Perera for his creation of a musical setting of a text that is both timely and timeless. He and James Dickey have given us a work that lyrically pinpoints an historical milestone in this country's exploration of space and delves into the minds of the men who experienced that fabulous adventure.
Music Library Association, NOTES 12/78
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  Five Summer Songs  (1972)       Audio excerpt  :::  Reviews  :::  Ordering information
Rec. lyric medium voice (b-f#2); 12:00; titles are: New Feet Within My Garden Go; South Winds Jostle Them; I Know a Place; To Make a Prairie; The One That Could Repeat the Summer Day; best kept as a set; excellent variety of mood and color; atonal, but with a strong feeling of tonality throughout; gentle dissonances; not difficult for the voice, but the colorful piano writing is intricate and requires dexterity; elegant, lyrical, compelling songs.
A Singer's Guide to the American Art Song 1870-1980 by Victoria Etnier Villamil (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993)

Perera's thoroughly pleasing and admirably written set of songs would grace any singer's repertory. The unadorned style and clarity of the musical language make the set an attractive proposition for a beginner to the field. The "Five Summer Songs" could be put with other Emily Dickinson settings. They would not seem out of place in a traditional recital programme because of their unpretentious and direct appeal. The set would form a good foil for late Romantic lieder with more exotic textures.
New Vocal Repertory by Jane Manning (Taplinger, 1987)

With detailed instructions for both the singer and accompanist these songs are wonderful for an accomplished, artistic, sensitive singer.
NATS Bulletin 5/78
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  Sleep Now  (1985)       Audio excerpt  :::  Reviews  :::  Ordering information
Ronald Perera's "Sleep Now," to poems of James Joyce, received its premiere performance. Written for Smith while Perera was on sabbatical leave in London during the fall of 1985, the five songs are written with exquisite sensitivity to the rhythms of speech, and indeed, resist any imposition of regular foot tapping. The melodic lines, which have a floating, modal flavor, are usually quite long — the last note of a phrase is often held longer than one might expect, as if the singer is to create a sense of unending resonance. The sustaining pedal of the piano, with a few exceptions, is in constant use, contributing to the dreaminess....Though the songs are simple and direct in their expression, there is nothing simple about the writing, and each subsequent performance will help release the music from the printed page. The performance Sunday night represented a good start for a composition that will hopefully have a long and fruitful life.
The Morning Union (Springfield, MA) 10/23/86
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  Shakespeare Songs   (1986)       Audio excerpt  :::  Reviews  :::  Ordering information
Perera has set five familiar Shakespearean song texts: "Take, O take those lips away;" "Hark, hark! the lark;" "Full fathom five;" "Where the bee sucks;" and "O mistress mine." The settings are vivid and varied, yet simple in expression. Perera has successfully assimilated elements of the new neo-romantic style into his own expressive, eclectic style. The marriage of styles seems natural and inevitable.
Springfield (MA) Daily News 3/3/87

The Perera songs are effectively written for the voice and piano and cover a number of styles; the most appealing were the first, in which an earlier setting of "Take, O take those lips away" melts into something more contemporary and the fourth, "Where the bee sucks," set in a lively, jazzy way.
Boston Globe 6/3/87
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