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Brian Elias

Publisher: Chester Music

The Judas Tree (1991)
commissioned by the Royal Opera House
Chester Music Ltd
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Year Composed
38 Minutes
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Programme Note
Brian Elias The Judas Tree (1991)

The score of The Judas Tree is part symphony, part music drama – but above all an abstract orchestral structure expressed in terms of movement and dance. The ballet was
originally choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan.

  • Ensemble
    Royal Ballet and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
    Opus Arte:
  • Ensemble
    The Royal Ballet; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
    Irek Mukhamedov, Dancer; Leanne Benjamin, Dancer
    Barry Wordsworth
    NVC Arts for Channel 4 :
The choreography, however, is excellent: inventive, expressionistic, surprising, emotionally compelling. You can’t look; you can’t look away... Does the aesthetic beauty of ballet tame and make palatable the violence we see onstage? Or does it show us aspects of human behavior we shy away from, especially in an opera house? Do we judge the subject matter or the art, and are they different things?
Roslyn Sulcas, New York Times,10/11/2017
Elias's fascinating score, including unusual insstruments that give a gamelan flavour, is dramatic and atmospheric...
David Dougill, The Sunday Time,28/03/2010
... fuelled by Brian Elias's savage score, its intricate web of betrayal, provocation and despair is conveyed through steps which are both beautiful and violent at the same time.
Sarah Crompton, The Telegraph,25/03/2010
Brian Elias wrote this apocalyptic score at MacMillan's request, only loosely on the theme of betrayal.
Ismene Brown,,20/03/2010
The chief virtues of Brian Elias’s score for MacMillan’s new ballet are its rhythmic variety and flexibility and its rich colouring…Elias has produced a powerful piece of music that leads to strong dancing.
John Percival, The Times,30/03/1992
Brian Elias’s score is paradoxically attractive for so harrowing a work, offering, perhaps, some hope of redemption.
Jann Parry, The Observer,29/03/1992
The music is a commissioned score by Brian Elias, moodily atmospheric and full of jagged transitions, effectively suiting the theme.
Nicholas Dromgoole, Daily Telegraph,22/03/1992
Brian Elias’s score for The Judas Tree is a sustained and often striking achievement, far more direct in its imagery than his earlier orchestral works. Given a totally free hand by MacMillan, Elias has produced a continuously unfolding span of music, whose events were apparently informed by a private scenario of the composer’s own devising, but one which makes perfectly coherent sense as an abstract musical argument. With a five-part structure containing a set of variations, fully worked slow movement and a tumultuous coda which pulls together many of the musical threads, there is more than a hint of a latter day symphony behind The Judas Tree. It is a feeling enhanced by the carrying-over of thematic shards from one section to the next binding the structure ever tighter. …There is plenty to absorb and ample substance to justify a transfer to the concert hall.
Andrew Clements, Financial Times,21/03/1992
…it contains some of the most startling and powerful movements MacMillan has made in ages. Brian Elias’s fabulous score, strongly textured, moving purposefully through passages of violence and calm, seems to have unleashed MacMillan’s dance imagination…
Judith Mackrell, The Independent,21/03/1992
Brian Elias’s score is powerful as drama atmospheric in sonorities, providing an urgent motor force for the action.
Clement Crisp, Financial Times,21/03/1992
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