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Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, November 2012

The piece is moving and impressive, appropriate to its occasion—and all occasions, for that matter. Don’t miss this. Soloists are outstanding, and the Dallas orchestra and well-prepared chorus sound splendid. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs
Arts+Culture Magazine North Texas, September 2012

The work electrified the classical music world. When the DSO took it on tour to Carnegie Hall in 2011, it impressed all over again…Now comes a recording, released by the Symphony, made in a live concert that gives the work a new life, reaching a far broader audience.

The CD itself is packaged attractively, with a booklet that features an essay by Dallas Symphony program annotator Laurie Schulman. The audio is excellent and the work has all the impact of hearing it live. The soloists are Rodney Gilfry as LBJ, Kristine Jepson and Indira Mahajan as the two mothers and Vale Rideout as McNamara. In addition, the Dallas Symphony Chorus sounds magnificent, giving the recording a haunting resonance. © 2012 Arts+Culture Magazine North Texas Read complete review

Stephen Eddins, August 2012

August 24, 1964, was the date on which two history-altering events in the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson coincided: the discovery of the bodies of three young civil rights workers, two white New Yorkers and a black Mississippian, after their murders, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to the disastrous escalation of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Composer Steven Stucky and librettist Gene Scheer received a commission form the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 2008 centennial of Johnson’s birth, and selected the events of this day to encapsulate both his achievements in his commitment to the civil rights movement and his failures of foreign policy. It’s a daunting task to put the tragic import of these disparate events (along with enough background information to make them comprehensible) together into a coherent narrative, but Scheer pulls it off with great skill and insight, and his dramatic trajectory carries real emotional punch.

The chorus…delivers poetic commentary on the actions. Stucky’s orchestral writing is characteristically inventive and vivid, with plenty of color and variety. The lovely, understated orchestral elegy at the center of the work and the poignant recurring chorus, “I continually think of those who were truly great” are the emotional and musical highlights of the piece. The elegy could be effectively presented independently as a memorial to LBJ.

Jaap van Zweden leads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Chorus in committed, sensitive performances at a live 2011 concert…Soprano Indira Mahajan and mezzo-soprano Kristine Jepson sing with impressive dignity and lyricism…and baritone Rod Gilfry sings with resonance and is persuasive as LBJ, conveying his languid drawl without overdoing it. © 2012 Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, July 2012

The music is by Steven Stucky; libretto by Gene Scheer. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, with soloists, is conducted by Jaap van Zweden.

It is a full-fledged treatment with full orchestra, chorus and soloists, with action, an orchestral interlude and meditative soliloquies on the mostly tragic events of the day.

The music and libretto combine to capture the tragedy of the era, Lyndon Baines Johnson’s spotty legacy, his human frailties. It is musically effective—moody and frenetic in turns.

The performers under van Zweden acquit themselves quite well. Stucky creates music that well-fits the moments portrayed. I found it all tragically moving…it deserves your serious attention. © 2012 Gapplegate Classcial-Modern Music Review Read complete review

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