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CD Review

Paul Robeson Remembered

Kevin Maynor, bass
Brandt Fredriksen, piano
Corky Siegel, harmonica
Andrew Geddis, guitar
Fleur de Son FDS 57929 DDD 55:24
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The resemblance between the voices of Mr. Maynor and Mr. Robeson is almost uncanny. If the resemblance was all that Maynor had going for him, this CD would be just a pleasant curiosity. Fortunately, Kevin Maynor is a true singing artist in his own right, and so Paul Robeson Remembered is a CD that I will want to hear again and again.

Maynor is a young man who already has done much, and I know that he will do still more. He has performed with the San Francisco Opera, the New York City Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with roles in Wagnerian and contemporary American operas holding prominence. He has received performance and teaching diplomas from the Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, Indiana University at Bloomington, and even the Moscow Conservatory. (Maynor was the first Western singer to study as an apprentice at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.) Appropriately, he has received the George London Award, as well as a Fulbright Award and a Richard Tucker Career Grant. But for me, the proof is in the singing, and this CD provides powerful testimony in favor of Maynor's artistic credentials. A very brilliant international career can't be far away.

The 20 selections on this CD all were associated with Paul Robeson. There are spirituals (Jacob's Ladder, Joshua fit de Battle of Jericho), international folk songs (Danny Boy, Loch Lomond, Song of the Warsaw Ghetto), and even Boris's Monologue from Boris Godunov. In most of the selections, Maynor is accompanied by pianist Brandt Fredriksen in the style of Lawrence Brown, Robeson's long-time accompanist and arranger. To Maynor's credit, his tribute to Robeson is not mere imitation; he is not hesitant to find his own insights and inflections. This goes to show that there is more than one way to do most jobs; not one of these renditions is less than successful.

We are lucky to have such a sensitive, gifted artist and such a resonant bass voice among us. Fleur de Son is a company based in Buffalo, New York and distributed by Qualiton Imports. It's wonderful that they have recorded Maynor in this program. The engineering is excellent, production values are high, and an introduction by African-American baritone William Warfield reveals that he too is among Maynor's fortunate fans.

Copyright © 1999, Raymond Tuttle