"The Tender Land can, in the broadest
brush terms, be thought of as an extension onto an operatic stage of
Copland's Appalachian manner. This is crossed with the merest dash of
The cast here does not miss a beat. I wish that CBS
had chosen to record the whole opera. Just occasionally a recording
project works with devastating aptness. This is one of those instances.
When the artists walked into the Manhattan Center on 31 July 1965 who
would have thought that such an indelible, moving, viscerally exciting,
emotionally animated experience would emerge? The text, by the way,
Genevieve Taggard who also wrote the text for The Lark.
Laurie is sung by Joy Clements (sop) and her openness
and spontaneity repay dividends. She sounds as you would imagine Laurie
to sound - on the edge of womanhood, excited, fearful, unalloyed by
experience. Richard Cassilly (an extremely good Troilus in Walton's
Troilus and Cressida) as Laurie's lover, the weak and malleable
Martin, who abandons Laurie, is a passionate tenor whose operatic career
did not cloud his ability to project with touching clarity. He reaches
out to his audience time after time. The more cynical, worldly and calculating
Top is Richard Fredericks. Norman Treigle is Grandpa Moss.
I defy you to resist frisson after frisson as you hear
this glorious work. Listen to the wondrous climax to The Promise
of Living [tr. 7] - those horns calling out and the voices hitting
both their top notes and emotional 'mot juste'. We've Been North,
We've been south is given rhythmically split-second delivery by
the two anti-heroes. Then try the cross-cut Orff-ian patterning of Stomp
You Foot [tr. 11]. Desert Island stuff. A cool Delian nocturnal
impressionism enriches The World Seems Still Tonight. The orchestral
depiction of the sunrise in track 16 The Sun is Coming Up is
worth sampling as well. Really molten music making!
This work and this recording are far too little known.
Do not expect opera with lashings of vibrato, with opera-house conventionality,
with adipose attitude. Copland blows fresh air through the conventions
with a poignant pastoralism close to Patrick Hadley on the one hand
and showland Bernstein and Sondheim on the other."
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International