John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Master Chorale / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

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John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary Review

by James Manheim

John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary, first performed in 2012 in Los Angeles, is something of an expansion on the composer's El Niño, a Passion story adorned with a variety of contemporary themes and musical materials. Like the earlier work, it features a libretto by longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars, and it may be sung on-stage as an oratorio or presented as an opera. Mary Magdalene is indeed a central figure in the work, but actually it is more than the trick perspective the title might imply; as with El Niño Sellars incorporates such devices as set pieces featuring poetry by other writers (this time poet Louise Erdrich plays the central role). Jesus seems to appear as through a prism, embodied by a trio of countertenors: a typical Adams masterstroke. Bach's Passions are obvious antecedents, but Andrew Clements of the London Guardian has accurately pointed out a resemblance to a work by a composer not much mentioned in the same breath as Adams: Leonard Bernstein's Mass. The music has similar ambitions and a similar way, although not so extreme, of veering off into contemporary vernacular materials according to the text. This doesn't suit Adams perfectly, although he takes steps, including a recurring use of the cimbalom, to tie all his diverse materials together. At any rate, the work is never boring and often absorbing; the enthusiasm of conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the vocal performers, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for the material is palpable; and this sprawling score is clearly recorded. Time will tell whether concert-music big events like this one will have staying power, but there's a lot to chew on here for anyone with the slightest liking for Adams and his democratic, synoptic musical world.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Gospel According to the Other Mary
1 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:09 Amazon
2 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:44 Amazon
3 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:40 Amazon
4 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:25 Amazon
5 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:16 Amazon
6 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:00 Amazon
7 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:03 Amazon
8 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:26 Amazon
9 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:49 Amazon
10 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:53 Amazon
11 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:42 Amazon
12 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:52 Amazon
13 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:19 Amazon
14 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:07 Amazon
15 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 00:42 Amazon
16 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 06:38 Amazon
17 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:46 Amazon
18 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:40 Amazon
19 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 05:19 Amazon
20 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 09:29 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Gospel According to the Other Mary
1 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:49 Amazon
2 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 05:40 Amazon
3 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:25 Amazon
4 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:29 Amazon
5 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:54 Amazon
6 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:01 Amazon
7 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 06:14 Amazon
8 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:03 Amazon
9 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:26 Amazon
10 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:12 Amazon
11 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 07:35 Amazon
12 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 01:32 Amazon
13 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:34 Amazon
14 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 02:08 Amazon
15 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 04:01 Amazon
16 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 03:17 Amazon
17 Los Angeles Master Chorale / Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 06:25 Amazon
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