ADAMS Gospel According To The Other Mary / Dudamel 4792243
. . . divine. If you gave up music for Lent, break your vow and get your unworthy hands on this sinfully good recording . . . the work's CD art is a vibrant Boyle Heights mural . . . [the different pieces of Sellars' textual collages in the libretto] mysteriously meld . . . This score brings new elements to Adams' vocabulary: extreme dissonance; microtones (to depict the stench of Lazarus' tomb); a recorded chorus of frogs as accompaniment; a jangling, tinkling percussion section that includes tuned gongs and cowbells; and a cimbalom (Hungary's answer to the dulcimer). "The Gospel According to the Other Mary" is the successful culmination of Adams' compositional explorations during the preceding decade. New harmonies and orchestral colors convincingly coalesce into what could be a "late style" for Adams, one with room for the joyful, consonant repetition of his earlier work, yet one that can still accommodate Adams' trademarked long, disjunct, yet flowing vocal lines above newer chords and textures . . . Kelley O'Connor ably negotiates a demanding mezzo part (it dips into alto range). She brings alternating alarm, urgency, confusion, and love to the role of Mary Magdalene in a musical and dramatic triumph. Tamara Mumford is appropriately grounded, yet dark, as Martha, and Russell Thomas shines, especially in his extended solo at the end of Act I . . . the L.A. Philharmonic plays the bejesus out of Adams' music, with powerful ensemble work and beautiful solos throughout. Dudamel helps make the performance exciting . . . Highest hosannas and hallelujahs to the conductor, who birthed this work, took it on tour around the world and now has captured its wonder in this magnificent recording.
Miracles are violent and terrifying, with the resurrection of Lazarus (heroic Russell Thomas) a rehearsal for Christ's resurrection. Mezzosoprano Kelley O'Connor is an impactful Magdalene -- unruly, extravagantly passionate. Contralto Tamara Mumford has mesmerising beauty and depth of tone. Under Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic play with blistering force . . .
This is essential Adams and quite moving . . . I find the highly eclectic nature of Sellars' literary sources intriguing and the finished work does place the story in a religiously stimulating context . . . In my opinion, the work succeeds highly. This is, for me, one of John Adams' best works. I have heard them all; many of them live, and have been an admirer for forty years. His work ceased to fit the too-convenient label of "minimalism" quite some time ago. This score is filled with many of his characteristically colorful uses of the orchestra and a harmonic palate that is wide, expressive and which paces the emotions of the action and the texts in a way that one cannot help but be moved . . . I believe -- strongly -- that this work that makes over two hours seem like nothing for its intensity is one of John Adams' greatest accomplishments . . . One can listen to this amazing piece as a practicing Christian and follow every word and think over and over again about what things were actually like for Mary Magdalene. Or, one can listen somewhat oblivious to the text and just let this very rich, complex, often moving and sometimes unsettling score involve you . . . The LA Philharmonic and Chorus under Gustavo Dudamel perform as one of the world's great orchestras that they are. All soloists in this production are amazing and the sound from the DGG engineers is up to its expected high standards. Highly recommended!
. . . one of the most striking of his recent works . . . the strengths of the score emerge powerfully. With a trio of countertenors delivering the narrative like evangelists, and a scattering of solo arias and choruses, the parallels with Bach's passions are clear, but [Adams has created his own synthesis] . . . unlike anything else in the choral repertoire.
. . . otherworldly . . . It is magnificent . . . What makes "The Other Mary" extraordinary is that while coming out of the Minimalist school, the opera has a vast perspective in its efforts to reveal the universality of suffering. A latter-day suicidal Other Mary could easily be found in halfway house . . . Then there is the expansiveness of Adams' music, the most sophisticated, majestic and moving of his career, which now has the benefit of being the first L.A. Phil recording with Dudamel made available as a high-definition download. The CD sounds very good, but HD brings a whole new level of clarity and sonic pigmentation. Thanks to that detail, this new recording becomes a revelation of Revelation. Adams has spent much of his career railing against the compositional schools of complexity, but here he embraces the kitchen sink. Layer upon layer of rhythmic syncopations are superimposed in ways that might have pleased the European avant-garde half a century ago. The flickering instrumentation, heavy harmonies and restless, hyper-expressive vocal lines for terrific soloists, counter-tenors and the Los Angeles Master Chorale express deep poetical meaning without compromise.
. . . dynamic and arresting . . . [a] canny alternation between expansive lyrical showpieces and fervent narrative . . . Yet hearing the piece on disc seems to give it an even greater sense of coiled urgency and probing spirituality. Adams' score bristles with inventive touches, from the ghostly presence of a hammer dulcimer to the brilliant writing for chorus, and his responsiveness to literary texts has never been more alert or alive. Gustavo Dudamel leads the "Los Angeles Philharmonic" and a first-rate vocal cast (Kelley O'Connor, Tamara Mumford and Russell Thomas) in a performance of vibrancy and eloquence.
Even on first listen, "The Gospel According to the Other Mary: A Passion-Oratorio" is striking in its approach . . . Depending on the scene, I hear splashes of Stravinsky (the fabulous "Les Nocs" especially), fluid and frenzy strings a la Shostakovich, brassy blue notes, mainstream style rhythmic sections, all of which is approached with the energy level of a much younger man . . . Adams seems genuinely invested in Mary's plight and, much like Bach, draws from several sources to paint Mary in a varied and complex light . . . strong and [brilliant] . . .
. . . [all three countertenors] -- Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Nathan Medley -- are superb . . . Mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor sings the role of Mary with power and deep conviction, carrying much of the dramatic weight of the score with apparent ease. The rich contralto of Tamara Mumford seems perfectly suited to the steady, grounded sister Martha, whom she characterizes with great dignity. Lazarus has the big moment, and tenor Russell Thomas makes the most of "Tell me: how is this night different," bringing a lump to the throat as the line soars. The Master Chorale is masterful and Gustavo Dudamel and his Los Angeles musicians prove themselves to be [very satisfying exponents of Adams's subtleties] . . . [it is] powerful theater, given extraordinary depth by music of remarkable authority, variety, and nuance. It is well worth exploring.
. . . [all three countertenors] are superb . . . Mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor sings the role of Mary with power and deep conviction, carrying much of the dramatic weight of the score with apparent ease. The rich contralto of Tamara Mumford seems perfectly suited to the steady, grounded sister Martha, whom she characterizes with great dignity. Lazarus has the big moment, and tenor Russell Thomas makes the most of "Tell me: how is this night different", bringing a lump to the throat as the line soars. The Master Chorale is masterful and Gustavo Dudamel and his Los Angeles musicians prove themselves to be [very satisfying exponents of Adams's subtleties] . . . ["The Gospel According to the Other Mary" is] powerful theater, given extraordinary depth by music of remarkable authority, variety, and nuance. It is well worth exploring.
. . . the narrative tension and the acuity of the suffering described are substantially heightened. Adams' expressive and varied musical language, ranging from minimalism to atonality to cinematic neo-Romanticism, is brilliantly deployed . . . [Deutsche Grammophon's sound] does clarify the score's immense complexities.
Vocalement, la palme revient incontestablement au ténor Russell Thomas, dont chaque intervention se détache avec bonheur de la masse sonore. Sa voix s'élance au-dessus du magma, expressive et déliée, et retient aussitôt l'attention de l'auditeur . . . [Tamara Mumford]: une voix de bronze aux graves stupéfiants . . . L'écriture chorale a toujours été une des grandes forces de John Adams. La "Los Angeles Master Chorale" a ici l'occasion de briller dans les registres les plus divers puisqu'au choeur reviennent aussi bien les moments de confusion, quand la foule crie sa hargne ou son désarroi, que les pages exprimant la ferveur ou sérénité, tandis que l'orchestre bénéficie pour lui seul de quelques-uns des passages les plus marquants, comme la résurrection de Lazare, moment à partir duquel l'oeuvre décolle véritablement, secondée par la fougue de Gustavo Dudamel. Ayant pris ses distances par rapport au dogme minimaliste, John Adams excelle à varier les atmosphères, notamment à travers le recours à des instruments rares, comme le cymbalum . . .
Un chef-d'oeuvre . . . la nudité sensuelle de ses mondes sonores, débarrassés de toute image, mais pleins d'une force évocatrice qui n'a rien à envier aux "Passions" de Bach ni au "Messie" de Haendel . . . Musicalement, les influences s'entrecroisent sans jamais donner un effet de Patchwork . . . c'est dans ses grands ensembles que s'exprime le génial kaléidoscope Adams. Des scènes de résurrection spectaculaires. Des choeurs hésitant entre effets de foule à la Penderecki et "musical" de Broadway. Des cuivres incisifs rappelant Scelsi. Des nuits planantes. Des aubes émaillées de (vrais) coassements. Le Los Angeles Philharmonic s'y révèle plus en forme que jamais. Galvanisé par la direction d'un Gustavo Dudamel très investi qui fête avec ce disque ses cinq ans à la tête de cet orchestre.
Un disque prodigieux . . . le Los Angeles Philharmonic étincelle sous la direction toujours inspirée de Gustavo Dudamel . . . créé avec l'enthousiasme débordant de Gustavo Dudamel . . .
John Adams est le compositeur nord-américain vivant le plus joué dans le monde. Son parcours créateur passionne. A juste titre . . . une succession permanente de métamorphoses ont caractérisé et enrichi un exceptionnel itinéraire et une non moins incomparable production . . . la "patte Adams" se charpente sur une orchestration assurée, brillante, virtuose, très souvent stimulante où alternent et s'interpénètrent la musique répétitive et la pulsation hypnotique ou expressive du compositeur. Sa musique s'enrichit de zestes de jazz-rock, de traces (bien décelables) de Gospel, de marques acceptées de la tradition dite classique, de relents de musiques traditionnelles, d'attentions géniales apportées aux thèmes et à l'harmonie . . . d'exécutants de la meilleure veine. Les solistes, parfaitement en place vocalement et théâtralement, le choeur allant avec assurance de l'exaltation à la méditation, ainsi que l'Orchestre philharmonique de Los Angeles, véritable pivot, capital et décisif, de l'ensemble. Avec le dynamisme et les transports du chef venezuelien Gustavo Dudamel le casting est complet . . .