MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Plain text for smartphones
and printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:

Michael WILLIAMS (b. 1962)
The Juniper Passion - opera in three acts (2012) [95:33]
Full track-list and performance details at end of review
ATOLL ACD 243 [49:15 + 46:18] 

Experience Classicsonline

This two CD set presents a recording of The Juniper Passion, a three act opera which was first performed in April 2012 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Michael F. Williams composed the music. Williams is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, NZ. John Davies wrote the libretto as a tribute to his father, who fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1943-1944 with the 2nd New Zealand Division. John is Curriculum Leader-Live Performance at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland.
In 1943, the 2nd New Zealand Division moved from North Africa to Italy to join the US 5th Army for what turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the Battle of Monte Cassino. Located about 80 miles southeast of Rome, Monte Cassino is about 1500 feet in elevation, and the highest point in the region. A monastery run by the Benedictine Order was first constructed on the hilltop during 529 AD. During the fall of 1943, the Germans occupied the hilltop, affording them a strategic military advantage as long as they could occupy and hold it. From December 1943 to May 1944 the Germans and Allies battled at Monte Cassino, resulting in at least 114,000 troops killed or wounded and the bombing and total destruction of the monastery.
The libretto describes the horrors of battle as seen through the eyes of a New Zealand soldier; a brother’s missing leg, dragging his brother to safety, the pain of a sniper’s bullet ripping through his neck, visions of his youth in rural New Zealand as he loses consciousness, and ultimately slipping away to his death. Another scene set 25 years later describes a widow and daughter visiting a soldier’s grave site at the war cemetery at Monte Cassino, where they meet a former German officer and a Benedictine monk who had been at the battle. The players in this drama discuss war, God, right and wrong, and the meaning of it all.
The music for this opera is well-written and suited to the tone and scope of the libretto. Williams adopts various styles in this opera. Beautiful melodic solos alternate between the baritones and sopranos and are interspersed with segments of dialogue in Italian. Gregorian chant is are used throughout to represent the monastery and the life going on there despite the war raging all around. The dramatic effects are further heightened by digital sound-effects used to enhance the orchestration which comprises: string quartet, bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, percussion and organ. The vocalists and the orchestra all perform well.  

This two CD set alone cannot of course capture the visual impact of war or of this momentous episode. The music does not carry the opera. The original includes choreography, computer graphic sets and actual photographs taken during the Battle of Monte Cassino. The essence of the battle and the message that is meant to be conveyed can only be hinted at rather than expressed. One references on the internet assures us that the “performance is through dance with only minimal movement and interaction by the singing cast.” It is to be hoped that the opera will be released on video some day so that the listeners may fully experience what Michael F. Williams and John Davies have created.
This CD comes with the libretto and liner notes. There are several photographs of Monte Cassino included with the notes that show the total devastation after the battle.
Bruce McCollum

Full Tracklist and performance details
Pene Pati - Carlo, a Benedictine monk
Matthew Landreth - Joe, a New Zealand soldier
James Ioelu - Bruno, a German officer
Lilia Carpinelli - Maria, Carlo’s sister
Julia Booth - Helen, Joe and Jessie’s daughter
Stephanie Acraman - Jessie, Joe’s wife
Chorus: Stephanie Acraman, Julia Booth, Lilia Carpinelli, Amitai Pati (a monk), Ian Campbell (the Abbott), David Griffiths (a soldier)
Paul Gittins (narrator),
Lara Hill, Elena Abramova (violin), Susan Bierre (viola), James Tennant (cello), Gordon Hill (bass), Adrianna Lis (flute), Gordon Richards (clarinet), Brent Grapes (trumpet), Douglas Cross (trombone), Katherine Austin (piano), Vadim Simongauz, Eric Renick (percussion), Michael F. Williams (sound effects), Indra Hughes (organ)/Rachael Griffiths-Hughes
rec. Stebbing’s Studio, Auckland, NZ, July-September 2011

CD1 Act 1 [32:00]
Prologue [6:08]
Act 1 Scene 1 [3:40]
The sun climbed into the sky [2:12]
I can not see [1:24]
I could hear my brother [4:40]
Act 1 Scene 2 [3:25]
Act 1 Scene 3 [2:18]
I am Maria [3:20]
Hier ist das Schlachtfeld [1:56]
I thought I’d never [3:00]
CD 1 Act 2 [17:15]
Act 2 Scene 1 [1:47]
Act 2 Scene 2 [1:20]
Act 2 Scene 3 [4:35]
In saecula [3:38]
Artworks [5:55]
CD 2 Act 3 [46:18]
Act 3 Scene 1 [2:43]
Act 3 Scene 2 [3:31]
Act 3 Scene 3 [4:21]
Women create life [5:59]
Act 3 Scene 4 [10:00]
On a cold and dirty afternoon [9:33]
Joe’s death [5:14]
Epilogue [4:55] 

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:

































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Error processing SSI file