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Newport Classics

Bruce ADOLPHE (b.1955)
Little Red Riding Hood [17.52]
Goldilocks and the Three Bears [22.39]
An die Musik: (Robert Ingliss (oboe) Frank Almond (violin) Richard Brice (viola) Daniel Rothmuller (cello) Constance Emmerich (piano))
Ruth Westheimer (narrator)
Recorded at Recital Hall at SUNY, Purchase, NY in 1998 (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) and American Academy of the Arts and Letters, New York (Little Red Riding Hood) in 1998
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This is a companion volume to The Emperorís New Clothes and Aesop Suite for An die Musik on Newport Classics NPD85668, also reviewed here, which contained music by Peter (P.D.Q. Bach) Schickele and by Jerzy Sapieyevski. Here they turn to Bruce Adolphe for both commissions and enlist the doughty support of Mittel-Europish Dr Ruth Westheimer as narrator, a woman whose violent association with the English language has encouraged the use of American demotic in matters culinary and cultural.

Little Red Riding Hood has been rudely plucked from her European locale and festooned with bagels and "nut cookies" (whatever they are). Characters donít wander through pathways of a vaguely Schubertian kind, they patronise "a small diner by the interstate" and when swallowed by the wolf, extraction of the consumed bodies is facilitated by the Heimlich Manoeuvre. This is not a manoeuvre to be recommended when practised by "Dr Ruth" a woman whose fearless inspection of sexual mores is matched only by her Genghis Khan like assaults on the text. Still I dare say that children in her neck of the woods will enjoy the weird local colour and will equally enjoy the music. This veers from fresh flowing (non-Prokofiev) perambulation, flecked by charming exchanges for violin, oboe and piano, to a trenchant wolf motif. Thereís delightful nostalgic reverie for the Grandmother, revisited in vaguely leitmotif style and some sturdy jazzy music for the woodcutter. This is a most enjoyable piece of work by Adolphe Ė nothing startling, but sympathetic and warm.

His Goldilocks and the Three Bears is recorded much closer than the companion work so to avoid the Westheimer Effect you might want to adjust your volume control. Thereís not so much Americanisation here, just a reference or two to hot dogs, but otherwise the retelling is harmonious even if there are car journeys to set us in motion and not elysian walks. Adolphe characterises the singing and the sleep musics adeptly, not dissimilar in the latter case from the Grandmotherís nostalgia in the companion setting. The bears are well characterised musically and there are some sinuous melodies here to amuse the listener. Some of the writing bears an Impressionist stamp but thereís also plenty of honest drama to involve the imaginative child.

Two more pleasurable invitations to sample An die Musikís thoughtful commissions.

Jonathan Woolf




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