Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Paul Bunyan - Benjamin Britten (1988)

One night he dreamt he was to be
The greatest logger in history.
He woke to feel something stroking his brow,
And found it was the tongue of an enormous cow...

This, one of Britten's more accessible if still quirky Operas. Britten finished it more than thirty years after a failed run in the beginning of his career, only returning to it after an open-heart surgery which left him physically and psychologically frustrated. The book was written by the impossibly masterful poet W.H. Auden, who died in 1973, three years before the eventual stage production of the revived opera was pulled off. Auden's flexible verse tells the story of the great American folk hero, the lumberjack Paul Bunyan. The music wanders through an eclectic mix of operatic and folk styles in an unmistakeably Britten way. The whole thing is sometimes goofy, sometimes fantastic, sometimes moving and always magical.

This recording is by the soloists, chorus and orchestra of the Plymouth Music Series, the London Philharmonic Choir and the English Chamber Orchestra. Philip Brunelle. 1988.

Act 1:
1. Introduction and Prologue
2. Since the Birth of the Earth
3. No. No. We Don't Want Life To Be Slow
4. Ooh! Ooh! O How Terrible To Be As Old Fashioned As A Tree
5. You Are All To Leave Here
6. It Isn't very Often The Conservatives ARe Wrong
7. First Ballad Interlude: The Cold Wind Blew Through The Crooked Thorn
8. Act 1, Scene 1. Bunyan's Greeting
9. Call of Lumberjacks
10. Lumberjack's Chorus: My Birthplace was in Sweden
11. Bunyan's Welcome
12. Quartet of Swedes: Swedish Born and Swedish Bred
13. Western Union Boy's Song: A Telegram from Oversea
14. Cooks' Duet: Sam for Soups, Ben for Beans
15. Animal Trio: Ah! Miaow! The Single Creature Leads a Partial Life
16. Bunyan's goodnight (I)
17. Exit of Lumberjacks: Down the Line.... Timberrrr
18. The Blue: Gold In the North Came the Blizzard To Stay
19. Bunyan's Goodnight (II)
20. Second Ballad Interlude: The Spring Came and The Summer and Fall
21. Act 2, Scene 2. Food Chorus: Do I Look Like The Sort of Fellow?
22. Chorus Accusation: There, Now Look What You Have Done!
23. Slim's Song: In Fair Days and Foul
24. Bunyan's Return: Look, The Chief Is Back
25. Inkslinger's Song: It Was Out In the Sticks
26. Entrance of Chorus
27. Tiny's entrance
28. Tiny's Song: Ah! Whether the Sun Shine Upon Children Playing
29. Inkslinger's Regret: All the Little Brooks of Love
30. Bunyan's Goodnight (III)

Act 2:
1. Act 2, Scene 1. Bunyan's Good Morning
2. Shears' Song: It Has Always been MY Dream
3. Bunyan's Warning
4. Farmers' Song: The Shanty Boy Invades the Wood
5. Farmers' Exit
6. The Mocking of Hel Helson: Heron, Heron, Winging By
7. Fido's Sympathy: Won't You Tell Me What's the Matter
8. Cat's Creed: Let Man the Romantic In Vision Espy
9. The Fight: What Is It? What's Happening?
10. Love Duet: Move, Move from the Trysting Stone
11. Mock Funeral March: Take away the Body and Lay It On Ice
12. Hymn: O Great Day of Discovery
13. Third Ballad Interlude: So Helson Smiled and Bunyan Smiled
14. Act 2, Scene 2. (The Christmas Party). Rah! Another Slice of Turkey
15. Dear Friends, With Your Leave
16. Carry Her Over The Water
17. Where We Are Is Not Very Far
18. A Telegram From Hollywood
19. We Always Knew That One DAy You
20. Bunyan's Farewell
21. Litany: The Campfire Embers are Black and Gold
22. Appendix: Overture
23. Inkslinger's Love Song
24. Lullaby of Dream Shadows

Download Act 1
Download Act 2

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