- Ulysses' Bow, ballet - John Harbison - André Previn - John Harbison - Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Matthew Walters
- Samuel Chapter for soprano & chamber ensemble - John Harbison - John Harbison - John Harbison - Collage - Matthew Walters - Susan Larsen
Originally released by Nonesuch, this recording of John Harbison's "Ulysses' Bow" (1983) is an important title in First Edition's reissue line, and likely to renew interest in this brilliant score. The second act of a ballet based on Homer's Odyssey, the work relates the events of Ulysses' return to Ithaca, his defeat of the suitors, and his reunion with Penelope and Telemachus. The music is striking in its depiction of conflict and representation of heated emotions, and the sweeping melodies, rich orchestration, and dynamic rhythms are fully in the modernist ballet tradition, as exemplified by Prokofiev. So acute is Harbison's scene painting and characterization, one can easily imagine the stage action, even though the descriptions in the liner notes are minimal. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by André Previn, is marvelous in this 1984 performance, and the early digital sound is quite good. "Samuel Chapter" (1978) is less compelling and a bit of a chore to get through, largely because the vocal setting of 1 Samuel: 3 is labored and not especially melodic; the unedited text is presented as a monotonous narrative, with little emotional inflection and a fairly static orchestral background. Performed by Collage and soprano Susan Larsen, under Harbison's direction, this recording is apparently analog and sounds rather dry and two-dimensional.
- Release Date:
- First Edition
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