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Erling Wold: Certitude & Joy

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Audio CD, January 27, 2015
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Editorial Reviews

The newest chamber opera by Erling Wold, a true California eccentric and polymath (Bachtrack), Certitude and Joy is a bold, heartbreaking operatic meditation on madness and religious faith [that draws] explicit connections between the infanticide stories of the Bible and those of our own day, and [finds] a probing musical language in which to express those ideas (San Francisco Chronicle). Wolds libretto centers on the 2005 story of LaShaun Harris, who was told by God to throw her three children into the San Francisco Bay, which she did, undressing them and killing them all in a brief ritual after a day spent in the city, sightseeing and eating hot dogs. The story is combined with Wolds own search for the certitude of faith. As a member of the diverse cast, Laura Bohn is simply astonishing (A Beast in a Jungle) in the role of Harris, when in a long and gorgeous monologue of Wagnerian intensity, lovingly offers up her precious children to their heavenly father. You know its coming, but the power of the scene is unbearably wrenching even so. (SF Chronicle)

Product Details

  • Conductor: __
  • Composer: Erling Wold
  • Audio CD (January 27, 2015)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: MinMax
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,560 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This is one of those operas whose title evokes irony right at the start. Like Ruggero Leoncavallo's "Cavalleria Rusticana" (Rustic Chivalry) and Virgil Thomson's "Four Saints in Three Acts" the title Certitude and Joy hardly seems to evoke the right emotions in this harrowing story taken right from the headlines of a case in 2005 in which a mother kills her children and dumps their bodies in San Francisco Bay. This is contrasted with the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac in which God tells Abraham to slay his son. Of course God stopped Abraham in the bible story but that was not the case with the more recent story.

Erling Wold (1958- ) is a composer of whom I had been only distantly aware. He is a California native and has studied with Andrew Imbrie, Gerard Grisey and John Chowning. That right there gives you a clue to this man's compositional range and skills. He completed a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley in 1987 and has worked for Yamaha creating new synthesizer programs in addition to pursuing his musical interests.

The San Francisco Bay Area has such a rich and varied musical culture that it is not all that surprising to me that I hadn't come to know this fascinating composer. And it's taken me a while to absorb enough about Mr. Wold to feel that I could write something intelligent about this CD.

The composer's web site (click here) contains a plethora of scores and sound recordings of this prolific and interesting composer. And there are numerous offerings on You Tube and there is a blog linked on his web site in which he discusses a variety of topics not the least of which is his own music. It seems that he has created several operas including one based on William S. Burroughs' early but long suppressed novel, Queer.
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