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Flowering Tree (2 CD)

John Adams , John Adams , London Symphony Orchestra , Eric Owens , Jessica Rivera , Russell Thomas Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Price: $27.18 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 20 Songs, 1 Digital Booklet, 2008 $17.99  
Audio CD, 2008 $27.18  

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Flowering Tree (2 CD) + Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony / String Quartet + Dr Atomic Symphony/Guide to Strange Places
Price for all three: $58.82

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Product Details

  • Performer: Eric Owens, Jessica Rivera, Russell Thomas
  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: John Adams
  • Composer: John Adams
  • Audio CD (September 23, 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0017PCXQ6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,016 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Scene 1
2. Scene 2
3. Scene 3
Disc: 2
1. Scene 4
2. Scene 5
3. Scene 6

Editorial Reviews

The performances on this 2 disc set, which includes extensive liner notes and the complete libretto, were recorded at the Barbican Center, London, in August 2007, with the London Symphony Orchestra and the same vocalists who performed in Vienna.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Adams in fine form October 2, 2008
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I was very excited to see this CD was finally available, and I jumped on it. I'm happy to say that I'm not disappointed. Adam's writing is both energetic and gorgeous, as ever. An equal to "El Nino", easily. Superior to "Klinghoffer" and (if it even needs to be said) the stumble that "I Was Looking At The Ceiling..." turned out to be. Nothing tops "Nixon", of course, but that opera is stylistically somewhat different from Adam's current style. I have yet to hear "Doctor Atomic" so I can't compare it.

The performance is excellent as well. The singers are well matched to the material and the playing is phenomenal, as is the mix and master of the CD itself.

I have to confirm the booklet issue, but I have to say it doesn't really bother me. I'm not really a follow-the-libretto kind of opera listener. It's in English, anyhow. From a consumer perspective I would hope they would have some sort of mail-in exchange option, though, once they get it sorted out.

If you're a John Adams fan, this is a must-have, in my opinion.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I went to the Nonesuch website, contacted them as indicated on the site, explained the problem, and within a few days received a courteous e-mail apologizing for the misprinted booklet and explaining that they were reprinting the booklet correctly. A few weeks later I reveived the reprinted booklet, free of errors and free of charge. I hope that those who downgraded this release will go to the [...] website and write a courteous request for the reprinted booklet. As for why others got no reply to their complaints, all I can assume is that they did not go directly to the source on the Nonesuch site.

By the way, I think this opera is yet another masterpiece from one of American's finest living composers. Adams is perhaps our finest composer overall, given the variety and depth (both intellectual and emotional) of his works as well as their appeal to the human ears. Certainly the many performances of his works all over the world suggest that he is. Only in the USA are his compositions relatively rarely performed. Now that the MET has finally, after all these years, recognized him with "Dr. Atomic" and plans a production of "Nixon in China", perhaps we will get to hear and see more of his works in concert halls and opera houses.

I highly recommend his recent autobiography,Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life and the informative The John Adams Reader: Essential Writings on an American Composer. Also well done and greatly to be ejoyed are the DVD studies of his life and music,
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Romantic Adams yet October 7, 2008
Format:Audio CD
The shimmering beauty of the music, the magical Tamil tale of transformative love vs. adversity, and the exceptional performances all make John Adams' opera/oratorio "A Flowering Tree" one of his best releases yet.

A flood of antipodal cultural references washes through the music. Adams' minimalist upbringing barely shows. To create some tonal exoticism, most of Act I seems to be in a medieval mixolydian mode (a scale sounding like G to G on the piano's white keys). The melodic lines are more emotive, the orchestration more transparent, the style positivistic in evoking the sound of previous composers.

The opening notes are transporting. Taking Wagner's woodbird music accompaniment from Siegfried and pasting on it a low melody in a peculiar doubling, Adams conjures up the Sibelius of the Sixth Symphony. Later, in highly accented, simply phrased, fortissimo choral passages, the shade of Carl Orff Carmina-izes. During the wedding music, slashing strings typical of the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara are heard. At the beginning of Act II, blatantly Wagnerian horn phrases burst out. Yet all these Western and Nordic references are carefully immersed in genetic Adams: No harm, no postmodern foul.

At times in other works, Adams emotive self is so standoffish you want to shake him. Not so here. Along with "My Father Knew Charles Ives," "Nixon in China," and, yes, "Ceiling ... Sky," this is my favorite Adams so far.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem with printed booklet/libretto September 24, 2008
Format:Audio CD
While I enjoyed this opera tremendously when I saw it in Chicago, and this is a very good recording, the included booklet/libretto is completely messed up. The booklet contains two copies of the libretto of Act I, so you can't follow along with Act II. Nonesuch made a huge mistake in the typesetting and printing. I have contacted them, but they have not responded. It's a shame. This is a wonderful opera, but I wouldn't have purchased the media had I known the booklet was a total mess. I feel a bit cheated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but certainly an acquired taste May 7, 2011
Format:MP3 Music|Verified Purchase
I really, really tried to go into this with an open mind. It seems to have worked, because I adore the music.

I had reservations because I had seen Doctor Atomic in person at the Atlanta Symphony and... needless to say "loathed" wasn't a strong enough adjective for my reaction. I probably would've donated to a fund to send John Adams back to the music academy if I'd been asked.

'A Flowering Tree' however is something different, though. It still has those almost-tuneful melodies and bizarre additions that put me off Doctor Atomic [such as a chorus that sings entirely in Spanish for no obvious reason, since the story is Indian] but this time it's much different. I think it's the libretto, myself. Most of it is in English, and it seems to have a different goal than Doctor Atomic's did.

But that's quite enough about Doctor Atomic.

'A Flowering Tree' may sound incredibly strange at first. It's like plunging into a river and being taken on a tour of a land that looks like nothing you've ever seen before, just as you've never seen a person turn into a Flowering Tree. The harmonies and tonalities are unsettling to someone like myself who prefers Baroque music to pretty much anything, but they are intriguing in an equally strange way.

I highly suggest listening to it at least twice. One the initial shock is over with, you may come to understand it a bit better, and even to adore it [as I have.]

It seems that, as with most contemporary music, Adams is an acquired taste, particularly his more recent stuff. He's like Scriabin in that respect, I think. Once you know where to -find- the beauty, I'm sure you'll appreciate it more and more with time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars External and Internal Metamorphoses
John Adams continues to explore innovative musical ideas, tying them to political and philosophical themes, and has become America's favorite contemporary composer. Read more
Published on May 16, 2009 by Grady Harp
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great opera by Adams
I saw this in San Francisco and was very impressed with the music, staging, and lighting. The Balinese dancers that shadowed the story as acted and sung by the singers, the use of... Read more
Published on March 18, 2009 by Christopher Beecroft
5.0 out of 5 stars Flowering Tree CD purchased
Quick and easy deal. The cd came well-packaged and in perfect shape.
Great response time.
Published on March 12, 2009 by LA Krishna
3.0 out of 5 stars So-so, but better than Atomic
A Flowering Tree isn't John Adams's best opera, but it's certainly better than Dr. Atomic (though the Atomic Symphony is pretty good). Read more
Published on January 3, 2009 by Michael Suh
4.0 out of 5 stars Why haven't we heard more about this piece?
It seems like every note and word John Adams writes and speaks is picked up and spread around and endlessly discussed and listened to. Read more
Published on December 20, 2008 by Mr. Kurt O. Richards
2.0 out of 5 stars Flowering Tree-Disappointing
Flowering Tree (2 CD) I found that this two CD piece of music very disappointing. I thought it boring and unmelodious, and to have to listen to two CD's was over the top...D.S. Read more
Published on October 17, 2008 by David S. Yalden
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music, terrible blunder by Nonesuch.
The beautiful, shimmering music is lovely. It reminds me somewhat of Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" ... Read more
Published on October 9, 2008 by bradjanet
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