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Glass/Moran: The Juniper Tree / Pittmann, West, Sylvan, Torgrove

Glass / Moran
Release Date: 06/09/2009 
Label:  Orange Mountain Music   Catalog #: 57  
Composer:  Philip Glass
Performer:  David StonemanJanet BrownValerie WaltersJayne West,   ... 
Conductor:  James Pittmann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juniper Tree Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

GLASS/MORAN The Juniper Tree Richard Pittmann, cond; Jayne West ( Wife ); Sanford Sylvan (Husband) ; Lynn Torgove ( Juniper Bird/Son ); Valerie Walters ( Stepmother) ; Janet Brown ( Daughter ); David Stoneman ( Goldsmith ); Juniper Tree Op. O Read more class="BULLET12b">• ORANGE MOUNTAIN 57 (73:26) Live: Cambridge, MA 1985

Genuine collaborations are rare between living composers, but here’s a real one from 1985. Glass and Robert Moran (b. 1937) shared some of their thematic materials, as well as writing several scenes each of this two-act opera, which is based on the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale of the same name. This new CD is the first official release for tapes made during the first run in Cambridge, Mass. The sound is theatrical and atmospheric. It’s very much live, good and bad. Singing is mostly fine, direction more than adequate, and we’re not likely to get another recording.

The extended Prelude is all Glass, while the last scenes of the piece, mostly quiet, are Moran’s work. His modest but serene closing trio belongs in the American pantheon alongside similar moments from Bernstein, Copland, and Barber. It’s a gently Romantic idiom, and it’s not minimalist, though in act I, the dramatic requirements take Moran right to Stravinsky’s doorstep. Piquancy is added by the use of synthesizer in the orchestra. The Glass contributions allude to other works of his from this time. But he develops his own scenes powerfully, thinking on a bigger scale. Moran picks up on the Glass cumulative effect, and he then moves the argument into more coloristic and emotionally varied territory. The creative mix produced a few moments of poignancy, and nothing at all earth shattering.

The shared themes and tonal centers can also feel a bit limiting, but this is a very gentle opera. The story is extremely grizzly, yet it all ends well. The two composers both captured the unreal, childlike atmosphere, and as a collaboration Juniper Tree was a success. For Glass collectors (not beginners), the disc is recommended as a memento of a transitional stage. The idiom helps link the epic early operas to the prolific, mature later period starting with the Cocteau scores of the 1990s. If the CD helps raise Robert Moran’s stock at the same time, so much the better.

FANFARE: Paul Ingram
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Works on This Recording

The Juniper Tree by Philip Glass
Performer:  David Stoneman (Baritone), Janet Brown (Soprano), Valerie Walters (Mezzo Soprano),
Jayne West (Soprano), Sanford Sylvan (Baritone), Lynn Torgove (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  James Pittmann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juniper Tree Orchestra

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