Philip Glass/Robert Wilson The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down: Act V -

Anyone who enjoyed Einstein On The Beach, or the way Glass orchestrated Bowie/Eno in the Low and Heroes Symphonies will enjoy this latest opera. The opening “Prologue,” introduces a circular minimalist cell that unifies the entire performance as intermittent refrain, ghostly pulse or driving riff. “Prologue” features male/female arias and duets and builds with Wagner-ian opulence (appropriate to the context of the 1860s). The chorale and march of “Section A” utilise a theme that recalls Bernard Hermann’s main theme for North By Northwest. Yet the project takes on brilliant dramatic focus in the concluding two sections “Scene B” and “Scene C,” where the wonderful blending of spoken word and orchestration makes the final 40-plus minutes of this project truly memorable, even provocative. (Nonesuch)