Cruel Sister, composed in 2004, is a 35-minute long piece for string orchestra. It was originally written for the Munich Chamber Orchestra and premiered in New York in February at the Miller Theatre to positive reviews. Wolfe elaborates on Cruel Sister: "[It] takes its title from a stirring and fantastic old English ballad of the same name. I first heard a beautiful and eerie rendition of the song while in college, on an album by the British folk/rock group Pentangle. While there are no musical references to the original tune, the story of the ballad inspired a response. I was fascinated and horrified by the overwhelming greed and jealousy of the tale." The New York Times described the Miller Theatre performance: "The harp music at the wedding is suggested at first by the violas playing staggered staccato notes. Soon the entire ensemble breaks into aggressive pizzicatos: a horrific din of plucking, the 'harp gone mad,' as Ms. Wolfe put it. The piece ends with just a hint of a sad song, as if coming from some far-off place."
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