Scott Joplin: The Corn Huskers (from Treemonisha)
The Corn Huskers
Scott Joplin's Treemonisha (Deutsche Grammophon 435709)
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