Thirty-eight years after making her Broadway debut in “Sunday in the Park with George,” Victoria Clark is celebrating a new professional chapter with a stirring album and theatrical performance.
The actor and singer, who won a Tony in 2005 for “The Light in the Piazza,” unveiled “December Songs,” her recording of composer Maury Yeston’s classical-crossover song cycle, earlier this month. The CD edition of the album is out Friday on the PS Classics label.
New York’s Carnegie Hall commissioned Yeston to write “December Songs” in 1991 in honor of its centennial celebration. However, Clark believes the sense of unintended isolation relayed by Yeston’s lyrics and inspired by Franz Schubert’s 19th-century composition “Winterreise” will resonate deeply among COVID-19 pandemic-weary listeners in 2022.
“This woman who sings these songs feels very much alone, and if we take the setting of the songs literally, she is actually alone, taking a long walk in nature,” she said. “Hasn’t that been the journey all of us have taken in the past two and a half years? We have been isolated and worried, but many of us have also found the joy of silence and contemplation. Relationships, to one another and to oneself, have become most precious.”
HuffPost caught a peek at the recording process of “December Songs” via the video below. In it, Clark performs tender renditions of songs from the album, including “I Had a Dream About You” and “I Am Longing.”
To Broadway fans, Yeston is best known for having composed the scores of 1982’s “Nine” and 1989’s “Grand Hotel.”
Clark and Yeston have enjoyed a close friendship for years, having first collaborated professionally on the 1997 musical “Titanic.” So when Yeston reached out last winter about putting out a new recording of “December Songs,” Clark couldn’t resist the opportunity.
“There is no question that recording this album was one of the greatest gifts of my professional life,” she said.
The release of “December Songs” comes as Clark is enjoying a professional resurgence. Earlier this month, she made her long-awaited return to Broadway in the musical “Kimberly Akimbo,” garnering rave reviews.
After noting that she’s “incredibly grateful and a little surprised” by her latest triumphs on stage and in the recording studio, Clark said, “I hope this surge of energy and interest in the work of someone fairly far along in life gives hope to other artists over 50 and over 60, knowing that the best is yet to come.”
“Wherever I go, my deepest wish is for those who experience my work to understand a little bit more about themselves and what it means to be human,” she added. “And if that’s happening, I’m happy!”