CARLISLE FLOYD (b.1926): Wuthering Heights.
Catalogue Number: 07S062
Label: Reference Recordings
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: The doyen of American opera composers is quoted as saying that he thinks this one of his best, and it certainly epitomises the qualities that make his stage works so consistently successful. His idiom is conventional, the vocabulary resolutely tonal, and there is nothing remotely experimental about his approach to narrative structure, but it is the quality of the music, the effortless (or so it seems) matching of music to drama that make this 1958 work such a compelling retelling of Brontë's novel of passion and conflict. The composer's libretto perfectly adapts the story for the stage, and the eloquent vocal writing portrays the characters vividly. The music ideally balances the brooding atmosphere of the moorland setting and the social mores of the time and the passionate, rebellious nature of the two principals, the ebb and flow of the emotional temperature between scenes of daily domesticity and the slow simmering or sudden eruption of intense feelings exquisitely judged. The composer speculates that one reason for the relative neglect of this opera is that it falls outside his recognised canon of American-ness - especially of the South - and the vernacular that goes with it, but while it is true that there are hints of the cadences of English folksong - the sort of thing that Percy Grainger collected and transformed - these serve to add local color to a human drama that is as compelling as any other subject that the composer has tackled. 2 CDs. Libretto included. Georgia Jarman (soprano), Kelly Markgraf (baritone), Susanne Mentzer (mezzo), Vale Ridout (tenor), Florentine Opera Company, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Joseph Mechavich.