BERNARD RANDS (b.1934): Vincent.
Catalogue Number: 03S065
Description: Rands' opera was forty years in the making, and has been described by some critics as his crowning achievement. After being inspired by a visit to the then new van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the composer researched, sketched and spun off some subsidiary works over the next four decades. The work is a comprehensive and sympathetic portrait of the tortured genius' life, beginning with scenes of his early failures as preacher and art dealer, sabotaged by his religious obsessions and his belief in art as an expression of them. Portrayed throughout, and this is very evident in the music's degree of harmonic warmth and richness of color, is his refuge in his remarkable art even as his attempt at marriage (to a pregnant prostitute), his friendship with Gauguin, and finally his sanity fell apart. The libretto is presented in straightforward narrative style, without affectations or stylings, while Rands' music provides the characterization, mood and atmosphere, vividly and unmistakably. One could almost follow the action without understanding the text (which is in fact presented with admirable clarity); the brooding hopelessness of Vincent's attempt to comfort townsfolk reeling from a mining accident; his rejection by family and friends, his disintegrating psyche, finding relief only in painting God's creation - all are depicted in music of powerful, expressionistic vividness, as impactful as van Gogh's hallucinatory landscapes, the idiom grounded in extended tonality which becomes foreground or background depending on the drama of the moment. Libretto available online. 2 CDs. Libretto available online. Christopher Burchett (baritone), Will Perkins (tenor), Kelly Kruse (soprano), Indiana University Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Chorus; Arthur Fagen.