Late Victorians: Regina Coeli;
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Acclaimed as 'one of the best opera composers of the moment', American composer-librettist Mark Adamo has also ventured into symphonic composition and other fields in each of which his theatrical sensitivity, political commitment and musical maste
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"Regina Coeli", adapted from Adamo's "Four Angels" concerto, brings Mother Mary into heaven. The sad ascendence of the strings blossoms into gossamer wonder by harpist Dotian Levalier. "Overture to Lysistrata" compresses his "Lysistrata" opera into three movements: the dramatic first driven and restless, a tumbling wind through every corner; the second lyrical and passionate, romantic in the sense of idealism; and the third a complex tonal strobe running fiercely. From his world-famed "Little Women" opera, Adamo streamlines "Alcott Music" into three character movements for orchestral voicing. Rich in the personalities of their character namesakes, they are a joy to the ear. A fine overview of an important new composer.
"Late Victorians," the title work of the disc, takes a magazine essay on AIDS, its victims and survivors, and weaves around it the poetry of Emily Dickinson; two solo voices are featured, one spoken and one sung. In a way, it derives from Haydn's "Farewell" symphony, with its vanishing musicians, but though regret and bitterness are added to the mix here, the piece is all the more effective for its generally understated tone. Performances are assured, and the recording is mostly close and clear (the harp gets a little swimmy at times). Notes are by the composer himself, who you should know if you don't.