Scott Joplin: The Corn Huskers (from Treemonisha)


The Corn Huskers


Scott Joplin


Scott Joplin's Treemonisha (Deutsche Grammophon 435709)

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Singers: Carmen Balthrop (solo), Betty Allen, Curtis Rayam (solo), Willard White, Ben Harney, Cora Johnson, Kenneth Hicks, Dorceal Duckens, Dwight Ransom, Raymond Bazemore, Edward Pierson; with Houston Grand Opera Orchestra & Chorus


Composed by Scott Joplin; orchestrated and conducted by Gunther Schuller


Recorded: New York, October-December 1975


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Finally revived in the 1970s, Scott Joplinís long-lost opera Treemonisha (1911) is set in 1884 on an Arkansas plantation abandoned by whites to freedmen who nevertheless remain in bondage to ignorance. As Act I begins, Treemonishaís charismatic 18-year-old title characteródetermined to emancipate her fellow Negroes from their entrenched superstitionsódenounces an exploitive conjurer and welcomes hardworking cornhuskers. As newly re-orchestrated by Gunther Schuller, this track captures in less than a minute the transformative power of manual labor generally, and corn-husking in particular. Surely, had Treemonisha not been so shamefully neglected, Arkansas, not Nebraska, would now be known as the Cornhusker State.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz


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