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Ned Rorem: Our Town

Compact Disc (Audio)
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Fat Double (a 2.5cm thick jewel case, fits several
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Ned Rorem: Our Town
Ned Rorem: Our Town


This is the world-premiere recording of Ned Rorem's (b. 1923) acclaimed setting of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, one of the best-known plays of the 20th century and a staple of every US household. Intended from the start to be a chamber opera, the orchestration is small, and the scoring is light and transparent throughout - consistent with a work best suited to young voices. Rorem moves in and out of speech and utilises more elevated recitative (parlando) than in his previous theatrical works. He manifests Wilder's "emotional shyness" with abrupt stylistic cross-cutting between Americana (Thomsonian faux-Protestant hymns, plush sustained cinematic strings, Copland-esque woodwind solos, Ivesian collages), transatlantic modernism (the tartly-scored "sting" chords, jagged, off-kilter ostinatos in close-canon, denatured melodic fragments in place of memorable tunes), and Gallic lyricism (rapturous string obbligatos, sudden snatches of emotionally-vibrant melody, Debussy-esque orchestration). Everywhere in the music there is a sort of cool, self-contained regretfulness - the regret so central to the play's initial impetus, a regret so intense as to border on dread - that perfectly underpins and undercuts the sentimentality of the portraits. Rorem believes that Satie's Socrate may be "the greatest of all operas." Certainly, he exploits in his score for Our Town the same kind of baroque cantata textures and effects as Satie did in his 1920 masterpiece. But the Rorem and McClatchy Our Town also contains - in the propulsive, off-kilter ostinati percolating uneasily beneath the Nantucket matter-of-factness of its musical surfaces and its stubborn unwillingness to wear its heart on its sleeve - an astonishing undercurrent of unanticipated, and highly effective dramaturgical fury.


  1. Name
  2. Our Town, Act I: Opening
  3. Our Town, Act I: The Earth Turns, Just A Simple Turn
  4. Our Town, Act I: See What I Mean?
  5. Our Town, Act I: Why, Hello, George Gibbs
  6. Our Town, Act I: What A Lot Of Beans
  7. Our Town, Act I: Thank You, Emily. Thank You, Mrs. Webb
  8. Our Town, Act I: It's Evening Now In Grover's Corners.
  9. Our Town, Act I: Oh George, Can You Come Down A Minute?
  10. Our Town, Act I: Can You Get Home Safe, Louella?
  11. Our Town, Act I: Emily! Are You Still There?
  12. Our Town, Act II: Well, Friends, Three Years Have Gone By
  13. Our Town, Act II: Well, Mother, You're Losing Your Chick Tod
  14. Our Town, Act II: Morning, Everybody! Only Five More Hours T
  15. Our Town, Act II: Well, George, How Are You?
  16. Our Town, Act II: Thank You, Thank You. I Have Another Quest
  17. Our Town, Act II: Emily, Can I Carry Your Books Home For You
  18. Our Town, Act II: Hello There, George. Howdy, Emily
  19. Our Town, Act II: These Are So Expensive
  20. Our Town, Act II: And Now We'll Get On With The Wedding
  21. Our Town, Act III: This Time Nine Years Have Gone By, Friend
  22. Our Town, Act III: We're All Coming Up Here
  23. Our Town, Act III: Hello.
  24. Our Town, Act III: Little Cooler Than It Was
  25. Our Town, Act III: One Can Go Back Again . . . Into Living
  26. Our Town, Act III: Look! There's The Church Where I Got Married
  27. Our Town, Act III: Coming! Morning, Mama. Morning, Papa
  28. Our Town, Act III: Seen Enough?
  29. Our Town, Act III: Were You Happy, Emily?
  30. Our Town, Act III: Most Everyone's Asleep In Grover's Corner
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