A. Desire Under the Elms – recording (2003)
B. Desire Under the Elms – performance (1989)
C. "Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra," Master Virtuosi of New York

D. "Fantasy for Two Clarinets," New York Virtuosi

A. Desire Under the Elms – recording (2003)

1. ClassicsToday.com, 10/10 Review (Artistic Quality: 10; Sound Quality: 10), March 2003
A powerfully vivid score that sometimes resembles Samuel Barber in its lurid romanticism. The harmonic language is primarily tonal, though shot through with pungent dissonance. Thomas brings all of his varied background--popular, commercial, and classical genres--to bear on Desire, making it a well-paced and strongly theatrical work with high emotional impact. The brilliant Act 2 trio is just one example. Here Thomas has Eben, Abbie, and Cabot singing the same lines to create three distinct, vastly different soliloquies... George Manahan leads the London Symphony in a cogent and confident reading of Thomas' crafty and colorful orchestral score. The recording, produced by Thomas Z. Shepard, skillfully balances voices and orchestra in a vibrant acoustic setting. You even can understand most of the text without the libretto! Kudos to Naxos for presenting this important and intriguing work, performed with some of the big names in the business... this is a major release.
Victor Carr Jr

2. Opera News, March 2003
Thomas's adaptation fits comfortably into the increasingly mature tradition of American opera. the piece is stimulating and gripping as a whole. Thomas convinces the listener that this classic play truly gains from being musicalized. One outstanding example is the bedroom scene, wherein Cabot prattles self-absorbedly to Abbie while she and Eben become more and more aware of each other's erotic presence through the wall separating their rooms. A memorable scene in the play, it is even better here a turbulent, emotional, well-laid-out trio that reaches its musical peak with a gratifying payoff. The London Symphony Orchestra under George Manahan plays the score as if it were a familiar and beloved repertory item.
Joshua Rosenblum

3. American Record Guide, March-April 2003
Thomas has found an eminently effective style of setting the text that is serious, of emotional depth and richness, with extensive passages of recitative-like music blossoming into lyrical out bursts of melodic beauty.
Charles H. Parsons


4. BBC Music Magazine, November 2003. Performance: 4 stars; Sound: 4 stars
"American opera may be getting harder to define, but this work, written in the Seventies, feels like the real thing. It certainly taps into one of America's most distinctive operatic strains, and perhaps the most successful one: billed as a 'folk opera,' Desire Under the Elms harks back to works like Floyd's Susannah (and even, by extension, Porgy and Bess). The composer Edward Thomas seems to have been ideally equipped to create a lyrical yet tense piece of music theatre. Performance and Sound: Four Stars."
John Allison, BBC Music Magazine

5. Gramophone, November 2003
"Thomas's theatrical instincts are sure, and the drama is compelling from beginning to end. This set is strongly recommended. Perhaps it will inspire some opera companies to produce the work. It's easy to imagine that Thomas's Desire Under the Elms would be even more effective on stage than it is on disc."
Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone (November 2003)

6. Classical Music Web, September 2003
"The writing is luminous, lyrically intense, redolent of pastoral scenes but with a perfervid psychological subtext of envy, jealousy and lust.
Human foibles, tragedy and sin are reflected unflinchingly in Thomas's knowingly pastoral-verismo score. Not a naive bone in its body."
Rob Barnett, Classical Music Web (MusicWeb.uk.net)

7. Classical Music Web, October 2003
"Thomas has a very sure dramatic and theatrical touch and is a most effective orchestrator. The drama is well conveyed through Edward Thomas's music. Searingly dramatic. A very fine, well-crafted and theatrical work."
John Quinn, Classical Music Web second review (MusicWeb.uk.net)


B. Desire Under the Elms performance (1989)

1. New York Daily News

By Bill Zakariasen
This new opera is a first-rate piece of musical theater. In fact, it's one of those works, such as Verdi and Boito's "Otello," that actually improves upon its source. Masteroff's canny, concise libretto eschews hortatory breast-beating for completely believable and often heartbreaking realism, and Thomas' flavorful score melodic yet always contemporary and full of felicitous orchestral effects really gets under the surface of the characters and situations.

2. New York Post, Friday, January 13, 1989
By Susan Elliott

Characterized as an American folk opera, "Desire Under the Elms" had its world premiere Wednesday night at the City Center in a smoothly executed production by the New York Opera Repertory Theater. Thomas' score part Bernstein, part Ravel, part Copland is lush and lyrical, and uses dissonance sparingly with good dramatic effect.

3. The Record, Friday, January 13, 1989
By Peter Wynne

Thomas is already a master of setting English to music... the 40-piece orchestra played like a dream under the baton of conductor Leigh Gibbs Gore.


C. "Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra," Master Virtuosi of New York

1. High Fidelity
From the somber introduction to the upward tremolando rush of its conclusion, it is a thoroughly absorbing, lively, and vari-colored work. I hope that every subsequent performance of it involves such a complete virtuosic treatment as that accorded by Sidney Fell, the evening's soloist.


D. "Fantasy for Two Clarinets," New York Virtuosi

1. Dotted Notes from John de Clef Pineiro, November 2003 critic for music quarterly
Harmonically reminiscent of the second half of the 20th Century, this Fantasy covers much musical ground, virtually spanning the gamut from the concert hall to the cinematic screen, and moodwise from dark-sounding passages to dancey syncopated rhythms and phrasings having a distinct Middle Eastern flavor.


© Edward Thomas, 2021