Sunday, January 07, 2007

Moor, please...

So, I just caught most of second act of Bernard Hermann's 1951 opera of Wuthering Heights on Henry Fogel's "Collector's Corner" show here on WFMT. I mean, I only heard that little bit, but....holy crap. It sounds completely amazing. The story, I gather, is that Hermann (composer of all the famous Hitchcock scores and more) saw it as his life's work, but couldn't get it staged, and in fact the only artifact we have today is a so-so record he funded and conducted himself, which is now way out of print (here's the Amazon page with more). One of the big arias for Catherine also appeared on one of you-know-who's discs a couple years back.

The musical language starts where you might expect from his film music, but goes so much further. At the moment I turned it on I thought I had stumbled onto part of the end of Wozzeck. The orchestration is immense and fascinating, moving seamlessly between intricately woven dissonances and passionate, engaging lyricism--none of that "ok, we're done with the 20th century business, now for a song" stuff--the whole thing is remarkably confidant. Neo-romantic I guess, but I mean that in the "so that's where the great lost voice of popular opera went" sense rather than the "major chords suck" sense.

So, is this widely acknolwedged as a travesty? Is the whole thing not as good? What gives? If you're in receiver distance of WFMT, or get it from the internets, he's playing the third and fourth acts next Sunday...

6 Comments:

Blogger Chalkenteros said...

sounds exciting -- i look forward to tracking this down.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

I have it on LP! and have even listened to bits. It seems to be pretty darned good.

12:00 AM  
Blogger pjwv said...

Wow! I'm glad to hear there's a performance out there -- Wuthering Heights has been my great white whale of American operas. Once I came close to getting a copy only to be told the tapes had deteriorated too badly. . . .

Lisa, what are these things called "LPs" of which you speak?

7:25 PM  
Blogger Cavatina Cabaletta said...

For all those in need of a Wuthering Heights fix, I have the opera on CD (mp3 files) - just drop me a line.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

LPs: antique, yet sonically superior, means of recording music.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Bardassa said...

Hi, Glad you like WH, it's one of the great unperformed operas. I think about an opera like Previn's “A Streetcar Named Desire” and how it is composed by a guy who learned most of his craft in the movie studios and how that is slowly catching on as a repertoire piece (It's even getting premiered here in cultural backwater - Australia - this year) yet WH still languishes. The big love duet, comparable musically with “Die Tote Stadt” (also by a composer with movie credentials) has to be some of the most beautiful music outside of Richard Strauss. It's based on Herrmann's score from 'The Ghost and Mrs Muir" and I tracked down a recording of that after hearing WH.

10:48 PM  

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