Elegies

William Finn is no stranger to heavy themes; his musicals have dealt with AIDS ("Falsettos") and his own near-death from a tumor ("A New Brain").

William Finn is no stranger to heavy themes; his musicals have dealt with AIDS ("Falsettos") and his own near-death from a tumor ("A New Brain"). In this song cycle, performed at Lincoln Center in the spring, the composer tackles mortality head-on, without maudlin sentimentality or cliché. Highly personal tracks focus on loved ones he has lost—relatives, friends, colleagues and even pets. Finn's knack for conversational lyrics makes listeners feel intimately involved, and the upbeat piano accompaniment keeps songs from getting weighed down. His characteristic humor is evident on "Passover" (sung by Carolee Carmello) and "My Dogs" (Christian Borle), while "Mark's All-Male Thanksgiving" (Michael Rupert) and "14 Dwight Ave., Natick, Massachusetts" (Betty Buckley) weave narratives as rich as plays in miniature. The only sour note: inadequate liner notes.—WH