THE SCHOOL OF UNDERSTANDING
ECM 1648/49 (2-CD SET)
Words by Michael Mantler
Jack Bruce (Observer)
Per Jørgensen (Teacher)
Mona Larsen (Refugee)
Susi Hyldgaard (Journalist)
Karen Mantler (Student)
John Greaves (Businessman)
Don Preston (Doctor)
Robert Wyatt (Guest Observer)
Michael Mantler (trumpet, conductor)
Roger Jannotta (clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, oboe)
Bjarne Roupé (guitar)
Marianne Sørensen (violin)
Mette Brandt (violin)
Mette Winther (viola)
Helle Sørensen (cello)
Tineke Noordhoek (vibraphone, marimba)
Kim Kristensen (piano, synthesizers)
Don Preston (synth drums)
The Danish Radio Concert Orchestra
conducted by Giordano Bellincampi
August 1996, Copenhagen
Prelude / Introductions / First Lesson / News / Love Begins / War / Pause / Understanding
Health and Poverty / Love Continues / Platitudes / Intolerance / Love Ends / What's Left To Say / What Is The Word (words by Samuel Beckett)
|ABOUT THE CAST|
Don Preston, John Greaves, Karen Mantler, Mona Larsen
and Robert Wyatt have all worked with Mantler on various occasions before.
But in addition, two equally interesting new voices were found for this project, namely Per Jørgensen and Susi Hyldgaard.
|And among the musicians on this recording, once again, one finds guitarist Bjarne Roupé and pianist Kim Kristensen.|
you call it "sort-of-an-opera"? Is it in fact an opera?
I never intended to write an opera within the generally accepted definition of that term. To me, and probably to most of the world, the word "opera" means something very specific, something "The School of Understanding" is definitely not. Therefore, in order not to confuse anybody and to make that immediately clear, I decided to give it the "sort-of" sub-title. That may not exactly clarify what it really is, but at least it excludes a large conventional musical category. Yet it does make some sense, it is "sort-of-an-opera", since it was originally conceived to be performed as a multi-media "theatrical concert" with a certain amount of visual elements. It was, however, always intended that the music could nevertheless also stand on its own on purely musical terms in a recorded version.
Another consistently recurring and connecting element is that of Jack Bruce as the "Observer". He serves as a somewhat illusory presence, overlooking the proceedings from an outside point of view, injecting reflections, questions and comments on the various events and topics. Robert Wyatt as "Guest Observer" adds additional observations in one central song, which was also achieved through a pre-recorded music video in the stage version.
(excerpts from themes introduced by the NEWSCASTER - News texts created by Margery Mandell)
aggression, Aids, alcoholism, atom bombs, bad taste, big business, bigotry,
bloodshed, chauvinism, chemical warfare, civil wars, corruption, crime,
defense budgets, deforestation, dictatorships, discrimination, distribution
of wealth, drug addiction, dying cities, ecological disasters, elections,
environmental destruction, epidemics, equal rights, the european community,
famines, genocide, ghettos, greed, hate, health care, homeless people,
human rights infringements, hunger, ignorance, illiteracy, inhumanity,
injustice, intolerance, malnutrition, the narcotics trade, nationalism,
nuclear accidents, organized crime, overpopulation, ozone depletion, police
brutality, politicians, pollution, poverty, prejudice, racism, rain forests,
religious fanatics, riots, sexual harassment, slums, social welfare, starvation,
taxes, terrorism, torture, unemployment, the United Nations, urban decay,
violence, Wall Street, wars, the weapons trade, wildlife, xenophobia....
|FROM A REVIEW|
intelligence of the casting, the coherence of the music and the deft sensitivity
of its performance by Mantler's Chamber Music and Songs ensemble render
the whole project a triumph for all concerned.
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