Saturday, November 12, 2016

THE TENDER LAND (AN OPERA IN THREE ACTS)

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Aaron Copland didn't have the theatrical instinct of a George Gershwin or even a Gian Carlo Menotti, but that didn't keep him from writing one of the best operas we have in the "American" vein. The Tender Land was composed in 1953 on a commission from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II--who since the premiere of Oklahoma! 10 years earlier could afford such largesse--and received its premiere on April 1, 1954 at the City Center in New York. Concerning a girl transformed into a young woman by her first experience of love, The Tender Land is set in the American Midwest during the 1930s. The libretto by Horace Everett (a pseudonym of Erik Johns) was inspired by photographs taken by Walker Evans of a rural, Depression-era mother and her daughter that had appeared in James Agee's book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

The music is cut from the same cloth as that of Appalachian Spring--the melodic, easygoing, folkish vein that Copland could manage about as easily as breathing. Lightly scored (calling for winds and brass in twos) and with spoken dialogue in the style of the musical stage, the score has come to be regarded as one of Copland's finest, as he himself believed it to be. You couldn't get a more authentic cast than the one heard here, consisting entirely of good American singers whose delivery is appropriately nonoperatic, and including Minnesota native Elisabeth Comeaux in the central role of Laurie. Philip Brunelle leads the forces of the Minnesota-based Plymouth Music Series in an idiomatic if slightly underpowered performance that comes from the Heartland and goes straight to the heart. Ted Libbey
Although the folk-tinged ballet scores that made Copland the quintessential American composer of the early 1940's are outside the scope of this selection, he worked along similar lines well into the 50's. ''The Tender Land,'' his 1956 opera about a girl's coming of age on a Midwest farm, is the culmination of this style, offering both the orchestral warmth and evocativeness of ''Appalachian Spring'' and the homey vocal writing of ''Old American Songs.'' Its attractions include a gorgeous quintet (''The promise of living''), an infectious barn dance (''Stomp your foot'') and a touching finale. The Brunelle recording, with Elisabeth Comeaux as Laurie and Dan Dressen as Martin, does the score full justice. Allan Kozinn


Disc: 11. The Tender Land: Prelude
2. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 1: The Front Yard Of The Moss Home
3. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 1: 'Two Little Bits Of Metal'
4. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 1: The Arrival Of The Postman
5. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 2: Opening The Package
6. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 2: 'This Is Like The Dress I Never Had'
7. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 2: Dance And Exit
8. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 3: Laurie's Entrance: 'Once I Thought I'd Never Grow
9. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 3: Ma's Entrance
10. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 3: 'Remember The Boy That Used To Call'; Ma's Exit
11. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 4: Entrance Of Martin And Top
12. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 4: Martin And Top Enter The Farmyard
13. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 4: Duet: 'We've Been North'
14. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 4: Grandpa Meets The Boys
15. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 4: Trio: 'A Stranger May Seem Strange That's True'
16. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 4: Interlude - Martin And Top Make Horseplay
17. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 5: The Invitation
18. The Tender Land: Act One, Scene 5: Quintet - 'The Promise Of Living'
CD1 Duration: 42:23
Disc: 21. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 1: The Graduation Eve Supper
2. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 1: The Supper Ends
3. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 1: Grandpa's Toast: 'Try Makin' Peace'
4. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 1: Laurie's reply: 'Thank You, Thank You All'
5. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 1: The Invitaition To Dance
6. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 1: The Dance: 'Stomp Your Foot Upon The Floor'
7. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 2: Dance Music And Dialogue
8. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: Party Music Back In The House
9. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: Top's Song: 'Oh, I Was Goin' A-Courtin'
10. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: The Dancing Resumes
11. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: Duet: 'You Dance Real Well'
12. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: 'Laurie...You Know, Laurie'
13. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: Duet: 'In Love? In Love?'
14. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 3: 'The Tender Land'
15. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 4: Grandpa's Confrontation
16. The Tender Land: Act 2, Scene 4: Party Farewell
17. The Tender Land: Act Three: Introduction
18. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 1: Entr'acte
19. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 1: Duet: 'Laurie, Laurie...'
20. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 1: Martin Alone: 'Daylight Will Come In Such Short TIme'
21. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 1: Dialogue
22. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 1: Top's Aria: 'That's Crazy' And Exit Of Martin And Top'
23. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 2: Interlude: Daybreak
24. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 2: 'The Sun Is Coming Up'
25. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 2: Laurie's Farewell
26. The Tender Land: Act Three, Scene 2: 'All Thinking's Done'
CD2 Duration: 64:12

Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of The Plymouth Music Series Minnesota, directed by Philip Brunelle
Recorded October, 1989 at Ordway Music Theatre, St Paul, Minnesota

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Missing Part 5 (and more?)

Thanks for all the wonderful Aaron Copeland.

Cheers.

Horacio said...

I've always wanted this record but..never have it Thanks friend !!!

Scoredaddy said...
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Anonymous said...

I've heard the Suite, and now I'm looking forward to hearing the entire opera. Thanks!

Horacio said...

Dear friend: I am listening this work and I am astonished!!! How such a beautifull work is hidden , unless outside US. Is the same there? Thanks for sharing this gem.Best for you and yours!!!

WinterStatic said...

Fantastic post.

Scoredaddy said...

If you download this album and appreciate my efforts sharing it with you, please make a comment below.

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Kwork said...

Thank you very much. I'd only heard a couple of selections till now.

chrisc said...

Is there any chance that you might reup this ? Thank you very, very much in advance.

Scoredaddy said...

new link:
https://1fichier.com/?lvzd8jpnyv

chrisc said...

Thank you very much for the re-up. Can't wait to give this a first listen.

guiller said...

Many thanks!!

classic said...

Thank you very much :)