[7] John Adams – The Death of Klinghoffer

24 May

I think Moon cheated here.

This appears to be (on a quick scanning of the 1,000) the only “recording” that is a video rather than just audio.  And much as I love to listen to Operas and Musicals, Original Soundtracks and Cast Recordings, I prefer to see the work first.  The visuals are often required to understand the story, the nuance, the drama.

I fear this may cause me some problems later on with those Operas and Musicals I have never seen.

Watching theater is not what I’m doing here – that would be a very different blog.  My intent is to give the recordings genuine attention by setting aside time for listening to the them at my desk, on my commute, over the dinner table, lying in bed once the lights (and TV) are off for the night.

I don’t have time in my busy life for watching, only listening.

And Moon acknowledges up front that the audio recordings of this, John Adam’s second “Docu-Opera”, all lack something, that it was the combination of audio with visual that elevated the recording he chooses here to the rare air of his list.

I try to give a 1992 performance by the Orchestra of the Opera de Lyon a fair shot anyway.

Death of Klinghoffer

Death of Klinghoffer










From the first note  it is far prettier than Harmonium.  I experience a sensation almost of relief in the earliest moments, glad that this is less experimental, more melodic, despite the controversial and difficult subject matter.

I was a pre-teen when the Achille Lauro was highjacked.  I remember the name, in the same way I remember the periodic IRA bombings, the airline highjackings, the hostage crises of the day.  It’s just a part of my childhood.  It seems as good a subject as any for an Opera.

And I enjoy the choruses that break up the (for want of a better word) action.  The mostly paired pieces – Night and Day, Ocean and Desert – are big, yet somehow delicate interludes from the bombast of the soloists who boom and wail.  Despite the performers singing in English, the only way to follow the plot is to read along in the liner notes – although this will be true in the non-English Operas to come, I find it vaguely annoyoing to need “subtitles” in my native language . . .

And at the end of the day, neither the story nor the music truly captures my attention, despite spending twice as much time trying to appreciate this one as any recording to date.  A couple of weeks in, I feel I have given it a real opportunity to change my mind (as Shakin’ the Rafters almost managed), but instead it becomes at first background music, later an irritation.  Perhaps it is not minimalist enough for the minimalist fan in me?

I’d rather just listen to Shaker Loops again . . .

Owned before blogging?    No.  (1 of 7.  14%)
Heard before blogging?     No.  (2 of 7.  29%)
Recommend?  Not as an audio recording.  (4 of 7.  57%)

Next Week:  Johnny Adams – The Real Me

2 Responses to “[7] John Adams – The Death of Klinghoffer”

  1. nycavri December 10, 2014 at 8:22 AM #

    Reblogged this on . . . To Hear Before I Blog and commented:

    Throughout December I am going to revisit the first months of this journey, taking time at the end of this year to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve heard.


  1. [36] Johann Sebastian Bach – The Brandenburg Concertos | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - December 13, 2013

    […] more than one album on the list – two pieces in two very different styles, one Classical, one Operatic, neither […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


podcasts for the musically obsessed


Days in the life


My rants, outbursts and musings.

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

musicophilesblog - From Keith Jarrett to Johannes Brahms

Writing About and Reviewing Classical Music and Jazz

Leaves of Logan

Rants, reviews, rambles and a whole lot of books

Punk Rock Reviews

Reviewing Music

Team Distraction

Dicemasters Strategy

Good Music Speaks

A music blog written by Rich Brown

Kenza Moller

writing | editing | marketing

The Delinquent Diplomat

The Diplomacy Player's Blog Of Choice

Sampling Station

Tasty tunes, laughs, TV + film

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

%d bloggers like this: