Christopher Berg: Un Américain à Paris

Songs and Cantatas


Christopher Berg

Un Americain a Paris

Songs and Cantatas on texts of Madame de Sevigne, Erik Satie, Stephane Mallarme, Robert Desnos

The Mirror Visions Ensemble

Tobe Malawista

Scott Murphree

Richard Lalli

Christopher Berg's association with The Mirror Visions Ensemble goes back to 1996, when he was commissioned to compose a song for baritone and violin on a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. All the works on this CD were commissioned by Mirror Visions, with the exception of “La Moisson,” which was a gift to the ensemble from the composer. “Portrait en Miniature de Madame de Sevigne” was commissioned for a concert in March 2002 at the Musee Carnavalet, the museum of the history of the city of Paris. The concert was such a success that it is being repeated at the museum six times during 2003, supported by grants from The Florence Gould Foundation.

First and foremost a composer of songs, Christopher Berg has been called “an American Hugo Wolf” (American Record Guide). Though self-taught as a composer, several composer mentors have encouraged him, most significantly the late Robert Helps (with whom he studied piano), the late Noel Farrand, and Richard Hundley. Berg's many songs have been performed around the world and recorded by such artists as Janice Felty, Paul Sperry, Christopher Trakas, and Carl Halvorsen. “Why Else Do You Have and English Horn” was recorded for Cala Records by New York Philharmonic English horn virtuoso Thomas Stacy and theatrical legend Elaine Strich. His most performed song on Frank O'Hara's “Poem” (“Lana Turner has collapsed!”) has been recorded three times, and has been published by Oxford University Press in an anthology of American encores. In 2002, he was honored by Joy in Singing with a concert of his songs. Berg has composed cycles to poems by Stevie Smith, Vladimir Nabokov, Frank O'Hara, and Perry Brass, as well as songs on texts of Goethe, Shakespeare, Keats, Auden, Whitman, Gertude Stein, Joan Van Poznak, Nellie Hill, and Tim Dlugos.

Mr. Berg's catalog also includes chamber and orchestral works, with and without voice, all published by Tender Tender Music (BMI), and distributed in the U.S. by Classical vocal Reprints. He has been a Yaddo fellow, and the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the American Music Center. Currently based in Paris, Mr. Berg is also the composer of the musical War Brides, recently produced in Connecticut and projected for a New York production, and is completing the orchestration of an opera, Cymbeline, based on Shakespeare's play.


Poems by Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898)

  1. Whistler (0:33) Tenor

  2. Ernest Chausson (0:46) Soprano

  3. Huysmans (0:49) Baritone

  4. Verlaine (0;32) Baritone

  5. Reynaldo Hahn (0:55) Soprano

  6. Degas (0:27) Tenor


Letters by Madame de Sevigne (1626-1696)

  1. Prelude “…a l'hotel de Carnavalet…” (1:12) Soprano, Tenor, Baritone

  2. Une Comete (2:36) Tenor

  3. “Chi offende, non perdona” (2:43) Soprano

  4. “…la plaus etonnante…” 93:22) Soprano, Tenor, Baritone

  5. “La grande amitie” (3:53) Soprano, Tenor

  6. “A Paris, ce Vendredi” (3:54)* Baritone

  7. Les Gourmandises (3:40) Soprano, tenor

  8. “…mais parlons d'autre chose” (7:01) Soprano, Tenor


Poems by Robert Desnos (1900-1945) Soprano

  1. The Pike (0:46)

  2. The Lobster (1:09)

  3. The Glow Worm (1:51)

  4. The Badger (0:29)

  5. The Ant (2:14)


Texts by Erik Satie (1866-1925) from “Memoirs of an amnesiac” Soprano and Baritone

  1. “Intelligence in Animals…” (2:50)

  2. “Few animals…” (2:46)

  3. “As for the nightingale…” (1:55)

  1. HARVEST (6:54) * Poem by Robert Desnos Tenor

All Music - Tender Tender Music

All texts are public domain except as otherwise noted

2003 Albany Records


Tobe Malawista, soprano

Scott Murphree, tenor

Richard Lalli, baritone, and piano


Christopher Berg, piano*

The Mirror Visions Ensemble

The Mirror Visions Ensemble was formed in New Haven, Connecticut in 1992 to explore and perform song repertoire, in particular multiple settings of texts. The ensemble's first concert was sponsored by the Yale University Art Gallery, and since then exhibitions and poetry have provided the inspiration and focus for much of their work. In 2000 the ensemble created a program which accompanied the exhibition Edward Lear and the Art of Travel at the Yale Center for British Art. Also in 2000, the ensemble inaugurated the Leo Smith Concert Series at the Jones Library in Amherst with a performance of compositions based upon poetry and letters of Emily Dickinson in celebration of the poet's 170th birthday. Included was a new song cycle. A Visit with Emily, by Tom Cipullo, commissioned by the ensemble and recently published by Oxford University Press.

In addition to the music of Tom Cipullo and Christopher Berg, the ensemble has commissioned and premiered works by Richard Pearson Thomas, Christopher Culpo, Daron Hagen, Juliana Hall, Betty Roe, William Ryden, Francine Trester, and Yehudi Wyner. They have performed in Paris, London, Stockholm, Edinburgh, and Basel, at Yale and Cambridge Universities and in Town Hall, Gould Hall, and Weill Recitall Hall, all in New York City.

Tobe Malawista, a graduate of Harvard University, received her musical training in New York and paris. Together with Scott Murphree and Richard Lalli, she co-founded the Mirror Visions ensemble in 1992. Among her recent performances was a chamber music concert in Paris as guest artist with the Italian Trio Canova, in which she sang Ravel's Chansons Madecasses.

Scott Murphree has appeared at Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Symphony Space, and at Town Hall, singing the songs of Ned Rorem with the composer at the piano.

Richard Lalli is Associate Professor of Music at Yale University, where he conducts the Yale Collegium Musicum founded by Paul Hindemith in the 1940's; he has given two solo recitals at Wigmore Hall in London.

* & © 2003 Albany Records