glass notes
Pick of the Week – Melodies from “The Juniper Tree”/Vote for Sutter

Imgthe brothers grimm5 

"Mama killed me, Papa ate me, little sister bundled my bones, under the Juniper."

I have to say discovering the Juniper Tree was a huge delight and surprise to me.  I can't recall another opera which was "co-composed."  Done with Philip Glass and Robert Moran as composers with a libretto by Arthur Yorinks, the Juniper Tree works on many levels and should be revived frequently.  For the piece, Glass composed less than half of the score (only 30 minutes on the recording) with Moran composing 42 minutes. Not only are there two composers but their music in fact seems to work very well together in this piece.

I would say that the mood of the piece from the Prologue is pure Glass, indeed also in the second Act the only piece Glass contributes in the first piece of four.  That all too familiar feeling that something bad has happened or will happen pervades.  Though within seconds Glass unveils one of the most beautiful melodies he has ever written, and that becomes the basis for much of the melodic material and how it acts in much of the music later in the opera by Glass (and the prominent musical role that birds play in the piece, from the first birds that the mother feeds before she dies (she thinks they are her children) to the complete transformation of the boy into a bird.) 

One hears the seeds of the bird music in the opening scene, then later in the form of a proper "bird song," then later as a full dramatic realization of the bird music in the first and only Glass piece in the second act.  Here is a collection of the Glass melodies from the Juniper Tree:

Listen to Juniper Medley

AND check out this piece in the Washington Post about music at the White House.  Let's try to have Sutter at the White House as far as this poll goes….

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