A Flowering Tree
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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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Then a triple pattern is present everywhere: the mother and her two daughters, the Prince and his two sisters, the Prince, the elder daughter of the poor woman, Kumudha, and his elder sister. We can note the Prince and his elder sister do not have names. Only Kumudha has a name. Kumudha, the object of the love of the prince and of the hatred of his sister, is the center of the tale, the character around which the whole tale revolves. And Kumudha is the one who invokes Shiva in his male identity:
"Shiva, you have no mercy.
Shiva, you have no heart.
Why did you bring me to birth,
Wretch in this world, exile from the other?
Tell me, Lord,
Don't you have one more
Made just for me?"
This cannot be understood if you do not accept the principle of transmigration of the soul of an individual from one item to another, and these items can range from an inert object to a human being, and even to some devil, good deity or final salvation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really, really tried to go into this with an open mind. It seems to have worked, because I adore the music. Read morePublished on May 7, 2011 by V. J. Phillips
John Adams continues to explore innovative musical ideas, tying them to political and philosophical themes, and has become America's favorite contemporary composer. Read morePublished on May 16, 2009 by Grady Harp
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 morePublished on March 18, 2009 by Christopher Beecroft
Quick and easy deal. The cd came well-packaged and in perfect shape.
Great response time.
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 morePublished on January 3, 2009 by Michael Suh
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 morePublished on December 20, 2008 by Chantboy
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 morePublished on October 17, 2008 by David S. Yalden
The beautiful, shimmering music is lovely. It reminds me somewhat of Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" ... Read morePublished on October 9, 2008 by bradjanet