Victor Carr Jr.
"Thomas brings all of his varied background - popular, commercial, and classical genres - to bear on Desire, making it a well-paced and strongly theatrical work with high emotional impact. The brilliant Act 2 trio is just one example. Here Thomas has Eben, Abbie, and Cabot singing the same lines to create three distinct, vastly different soliloquies.
Jerry Hadley portrays the young, hot-headed Eben's complex mixture of loyalty, loathing, and lust with intensely vivid singing, although his top notes sound a bit strained. Victoria Livengood offers an emotionally rich portrayal of the self-serving Abbie, while as Cabot, James Morris sings in a gruff, stentorian style tempered (as in his portrayal of Wotan) by a more burnished tone that reveals the character's tender side. Mel Ulrich and Jeffrey Lentz offer solid characterizations of Eben's older half-brothers. George Manahan leads the London Symphony in a cogent and confident reading of Thomas' crafty and colorful orchestral score.
The recording, produced by Thomas Z. Shepard, skillfully balances voices and orchestra in a vibrant acoustic setting. You even can understand most of the text without the libretto! Kudos to Naxos for presenting this important and intriguing work, performed with some of the big names in the business. Don't let the unassuming plain vanilla graphics mislead you--this is a major release."