John Adams
A Flowering Tree


A Flowering Tree shined in the opera house, but lacks allure in this recording, said Geoff Brown in the London Times. Inspired by Mozart’s Magic Flute, John Adams based his 2006 opera upon an ancient Indian folk tale about a girl who magically transforms herself into a tree. At the premiere in Vienna, the radiance of Adams’ take on Indian ragas matched the “colorful stage spectacle.” Here the “choruses are vigorous,” but the “repetitive vocal lines” come off as monotonous. What you lose on disc is the sense of drama, said Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle. Yet Adams’ music sounds “just as fluid and enchanting” as ever. Adams conducts the London Symphony Orchestra with “an abundance of life,” and the dark, dreamy opera drifts along with “sumptuous melodic grace.” Adams successfully mimics the mysticism of Magic Flute, said Jayson Greene in Moreover, Adams “shows Mozart’s gift for darkening a backdrop of fantasy with shades of pain, regret, and fear.” Adams has long been among the most “universal and relevant” talents in American music, but A Flowering Tree marks Adams’ full blossoming as a composer of opera.