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Meredith Monk-Atlas (An Opera in Three Parts) (1993)
Artist: Meredith Monk
Title: Atlas (An Opera in Three Parts)
Year Of Release: 1993
Label: ECM New Series
Genre: Avant-Garde, Modern Classical, Experimental, Vocal
Quality: Mp3 / APE (tracks)
Total Time: 02:08:41
Total Size: 299 / 527 Mb


CD 1:
Part I: Personal Climate
01. Overture (Out Body 1) 03:06
02. Travel Dream Song 05:06
03. Home Scene 02:37
04. Future Quest (The Call) 11:14
05. Rite Passage A 0:56
06. Choosing Companions 07:43
07. Airport 09:18

Part II: Night Travel
08. Night Travel 03:14
09. Guides Dance 01:50
10. Agricultural Community 14:35

CD 2:
01. Loss Song 04:14
02. Campfire/Hungry Ghost 07:42
03. Fathers Hope 01:13
04. Ice Demons 06:20
05. Explorer #5/Lesson/Explorers Procession 06:04
06. Lonely Spirit 03:33
07. Forest Questions 10:19
08. Desert Tango 07:52
09. Treachery (Temptation) 02:11
10. Possibility Destruction 02:45

Part III: Invisible Light
11. Out Body 2 02:58
12. Other Worlds Revealed 01:28
13. Explorers Junctures 02:42
14. Earth Seen Above 07:34
15. Rite Passage B 01:42

Cello-Anthony Pirollo
Clarinet-John Cipolla
French Horn-James F. Wilson
Keyboards-Cynthia Powell, Steve Lockwood
Oboe [Shawm], Recorder, Sheng, Conductor-Wayne Hankin
Percussion-Thad Wheeler
Viola-Kathleen Carroll
Violin-Darryl Kubian, Susan Iadone
Voice-Allison Easter, Carlos Arevalo, Ching Gonzalez, Dana Hanchard, Dina Emerson, Emily Eyre, Janis Brenner, Katie Geissinger, Radall Wong, Robert Een, Robert Osborne, Shi-Zheng Chen, Stephen Kalm, Thomas Bogdan, Victoria Boomsma, Wendy Hill, Wilbur Pauley
Voice, Cello-Meredith Monk

Threading together Meredith Monk's various guises in the world of avant-garde performance art (from dance and mime to multimedia explorations) is her sensibility first and foremost as a composer, one who creates from the musical imagination's love of pattern and texture. And in Atlas, her full-length opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera and premiered in 1991, Monk brings together several decades' worth of pioneering ways of expression. Yes, this is an opera involving almost no text and presenting a nonlinear, dreamlike collage in lieu of traditional narrative, but an opera all the same in the centrality of the human voice as the source and vehicle for conveying a dazzling multiplicity of states (Monk herself describes her use of the term "opera" to capture "the multiperceptual, mosaic form that I was envisioning.") Based quite loosely on the travel writings of Victorian adventurer Alexandra David-Neel, Atlas involves the journey of an Everywoman as an analog for spiritual questing, for a movement from the outer world to an inner, lost, or forgotten dimension. Monk's trademark work in "extended vocal technique" (work that links her with such other mavericks as Laurie Anderson and Joan La Barbara) is the basis for the opera's sound world, and she's trained her fellow cast members (Monk herself performs one of the three stages in the life of Atlas's heroine) to attain the remarkable flexibility required for its strangely beautiful, magnificently ranging variety of vocalise--from complex, microtonal, birdlike imitations to Tibetan chanting and quivering ululation. The repetitive, always slightly changing patterns of the melodic cells might be pigeonholed as "minimalism" (a term Monk, like Steve Reich, abjures), but this would be an unnecessary reduction for the fantastically original and appealing, rhythmically subtle, and unexpected fabrics that Monk weaves--with spare accompaniments by a chamber-size orchestra and the exotic colorings of glass harmonica. --Thomas May


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