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Tori Amos' twelfth album Night of Hunters was commissioned and released by classical label Deutsche Grammophon. It is the American singer-songwriter's her first collection created as a song cycle-a series of songs designed to be performed together and in sequence and was inspired by 400 years of classical music. The collection tells of one life-changing night in the life of a woman who is nearing the end of a troubled relationship. Amos explained to Billboard magazine how the label approached her to do a song cycle: "[Deutsche Grammophon executive producer Dr. Alexander Buhr] said to me, 'We have this idea for you to do a 20th-century song cycle.' I said, 'Why me?' [Buhr] said, 'Because I've been studying your work for a long time, and I hear the classical influence, and you're ready to take the next step and really embrace this world. Variations on a theme are very much a part of our tradition in classical music, and we need 20th-century variations on our themes.' And I said, 'If I get it really wrong, it's bad on so many levels, I'd rather poop on my Manolos in public than screw up Schubert.' When you start using things from the masters, you have to approach it with a delicate ruthlessness. Because if you're intimidated by it, you shouldn't be doing it, and if you don't understand why the structures are working, and build a sonic cathedral, you don't take a song cycle on."
Amos named the female protagonist Tori. Speaking to Spinner
she explained how much the character is based on her: "Well, you know, you walk a thin line as a writer. What you write about, you have to emotionally understand it. A lot of what the woman is going through in one night has taken me 20 years to go through, in some ways."
Amos' 19-year-old niece, Kelsey Dobyns, sings the part of Fire Muse on this song, which is built around Italian Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti's "Sonata in F minor K. 466" and a Gregorian chant.
Said Tori Amos: "One of the main themes explored on this album is the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us."
An alternative instrumental version of the album was released on December 13, 2011 titled Sin Palabras. This new version strips away Amos' vocals and instead places her playing, along with that of The Apollon Musagete Quartet and the Berlin Philharmonic clarinet soloist Andreas Ottensamer, at the forefront.
Van Dyke Parks
U2, Carly Simon, Joanna Newsom, Brian Wilson and Fiona Apple have all gone to Van Dyke Parks to make their songs exceptional.