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Moran: Arias, Interludes, and Inventions from 'Desert of Roses'; Ten Miles High Over Albania; Open Veins Import

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, June 16, 1992
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Product Details

  • Performer: Alexander Balanescu, Jayne West, Mario Falcao, Craig Smith
  • Orchestra: Piano Circus Band
  • Conductor: Robert Moran
  • Composer: Robert Moran
  • Audio CD (June 16, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Argo
  • ASIN: B0000012U9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,653 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By K. Doles on July 30, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I've always had a soft spot for Robert Moran's music. After years of extremely avant-garde (yet often hilariously funny) works, Moran settled into a more tonal romantic-minimal yet fresh musical language, sadly underrepresented on record or CD. This collection, on the now-defunct Argo label, contains some of his best work. Ravishingly beautiful excerpts from his opera "Desert of Roses," a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast," steal the show. Rarely have I heard such stunningly pretty yet still contemporary operatic writing. "Open Veins," an energetic short violin concerto, and "Ten Miles High over Albania" for harp ensemble or multitracked harpist are also inventive and engaging. Not for everyone, but well-written and effective all around; a compelling display of Moran's great talent.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Really beautiful music from a composer who manages to sound modern without resorting to contemporary cliches. "Desert of Roses" was a David Gockley commission for Houston Grand Opera and based on the evidence here, it should have been recorded in its entirety.
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Based on I'm not sure which compositions I had heard of his but including the Three Dances for six synthezisers played by Piano Circus on one of their collections recorded by Argo (Piano Circus), I had a bias against the American repetitive minimalist composer Robert Moran. Admittedly, the variety of styles tackled by Moran throughout his career (he was born in 1937) make him much more than a repetitive minimalist composer, but he seems represented on disc mainly through the compositions in that style. the Three Dances are typical of what I DON'T like in repetitive minimalism: entertaining and rhythmic in the outer movements perhaps, but sweet and pretty in the middle one and very suitable there as music for a sentimental cinematographic romance, and as a whole rather inconsequential and excessively pop-inspired.

And indeed, the "Arias and Inventions" (the latter are orchestral excerpts in fact) from Moran's opera "Desert of Roses", based on the idea of The Beauty and The Beast (premiered in 1992 at the Houston Grand Opera), seemed to bear out my worst expectations - and worse. It is not so much repetitive (there are a few traces of repetitive minimalism at the beginning) as cloyingly neo-romantic and sentimental, in a way that even Glass or Nyman never quite dared to be (well... maybe they did). Is this all the Houston audiences were good for?

There is a certain craft as orchestrator, that you can hear mainly in the first movement, but at the service of music that is no more than sentimental fluff, music that could have been composed by Henry Sauguet for a ballet given at the Paris opera seventy-years years before, or, again, for a cinematographic romance.
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