In The Name of Children
Into the rich history of music inspired by fairy tales comes Glass and Moran's beautiful and haunting evocation of a story by Grimm, with a libretto by Yorinks that is filled with that writer's perfect sense of words in music. Strangely enough, there was another opera of this story setting in the 70s, by another composer, but it did not fare well. Nor did this, in its original debut -- though it was given its accolades by the usual Glass audiences. This work is closer to Mahler's Das Klagenlied or to Schoenberg's Gurrelieder in its rich orchestrations and dark undertones. It recalls everything from Hansel and Gretel to Peter and the Wolf, and yet it is singular. The soloists all completely become the characters and the superb engineering production has every note in your mouth to taste. Both Glass and Moran share a respect for each other's contributions -- and Glass does not overpower it as he may have done. In a world where parents are killing their own children, this work has a frightening resonance that chills upon listening to the words. This is not a fairy tale; it is a parable for our time that entrances as well as wakes us up.
Thanks Richard G
Or can I just call you Philip? It seems that you only give glowing reviews to Glass's works. Makes one wonder.....
In any case this is indeed a long overdue recording of the opera based on the Grimm fary tale. It's an interesting work to say the least becase it sounds as if one is getting two operas for the price of one. Most of the thematic structure remains intact but the styles of both composers seem to clash. Glass's trademark synth doodling is interupted by Moran's more fetching, almost Mozart like classical approach. I confess however that this is the only recording of Moran that I know of so for all I know this could be Glass trying out a new style and seeing how people would react. If that's the gag my hat is off to him. The work itself is about the right amount of time and the performances good enough for this sort of thing. If you're a rabid Glass fan you'll drool over this but if you're anyone else it might be good to say that you have a copy if you have the cash to spare.
A wonderful collaboration between two truly fine musicians.
Long-Overdue and Neglected Work.
Cue Boolez to put his two cents in about how clueless Glass fans are.
It's a curious case that an opera is conceived and composed by two composers. The Juniper Tree is an opera by Philip Glass & Robert Moran with a libretto by Award-winning writer Arthur Yorinks based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm. The opera was hailed by the NY Times critic John Rockwell at its premiere in 1985, the writer expected a long and successful life for the piece. However, the work never found its place in the repetoire. This recording from the original performances may work to change that.
Glass and Moran agreed on an instrumentation, and then traded off scenes: Glass scores the prologue, Act One-Scene One, Act Two-Scene One; Moran scores Act One-Scene Two & Epilogue, and Act Two - Scene One, a musical interlude, and the final scene.
It's a remarkable accomplishment compositionally because although the two composers have different styles, their work seem to add more dimension to the opera. Yorinks' libretto is witty and precise.