by ALEX ROSS [New Yorker, 4 December 2006]
New works by John Adams and Gyˆrgy Kurt·g in Vienna
When, in October of last year, John Adams unveiled ìDoctor Atomic,î his opera of nuclear hubris and fear, he might have been expected to take a week or two off, or, at least, a day. Instead, on the afternoon following the premiËre, in San Francisco, he sat down with the director Peter Sellars to plot out a new piece. The two longtime collaborators looked over a volume of South Indian oral tales, as rendered in English by the folklorist A. K. Ramanujan, and chose one about a woman who transforms herself into a tree. ìA Flowering Tree,î the result of their labors, had its premiËre earlier this month at the MuseumsQuartier, in Vienna. The score is opulent, dreamlike, fiercely lyrical, at times shadowy and strangeóunlike anything that the fifty-nine-year-old composer has written.