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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Greta on November 13, 2007, 02:13:07 PM

Title: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Greta on November 13, 2007, 02:13:07 PM
I think we didn't have a thread like this before? One of my absolute favorite contemporary American composers:

John Coolidge Adams
(1947-)

(http://graphics.jsonline.com/graphics/owlive/img/sep04/stricol.adams0912_big.jpg)


Biography

John Adams was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1947 and graduated from Harvard University in 1971. He moved to California where he taught and conducted at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for ten years. His innovative concerts led to his appointment firstly as contemporary music advisor to the San Francisco Symphony, and then as the orchestra's composer-in-residence between 1979 and 1985, the period in which his reputation became established with the success of such works as "Harmonium" and "Harmonielehre". Recordings on the New Albion and ECM labels were followed by a contract with Nonesuch Records in 1986.

Of John Adams' compositions, the best known and most widely discussed is his opera "Nixon in China", given its premiere by Houston Grand Opera in 1987 and winner of the 1989 Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition. With "Nixon in China", the composer, along with director Peter Sellars, librettist Alice Goodman and choreographer Mark Morris, brought contemporary history vividly into the opera house, pioneering an entire genre of post-modern music theater. The original staging of the work by Sellars has subsequently been seen in New York, Washington, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Los Angeles, Paris, Adelaide and Frankfurt. New productions of the opera have been presented in Helsinki (in Finnish) and Beilefeld (in German).

Adams' second opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer", again a collaboration with Sellars, Goodman and Morris, had its premiere at the Brussels Opera in 1991. Described by Newsweek critic Katrine Ames as "a work that fires the heart," it has also been seen in Lyon, Vienna, New York and San Francisco.

Initially known as a Minimalist, Adams has in his mature work harnessed the rhythmic energy of Minimalism to the harmonies and orchestral colors of late-Romanticism. Concurrently he has introduced references to a wide range of 20th century idioms - both 'popular' and 'serious' - in works such as his two operas and the wittily eclectic orchestral piece "Fearful Symmetries", which touches on Stravinsky, Honegger, and big-band swing music.

Other orchestral works by Adams include the two often-heard fanfares "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" and "Tromba Lontana"; his acclaimed Walt Whitman setting "The Wound Dresser"; "Eros Piano", a sensuous composition for piano and chamber orchestra; and "El Dorado", a commission from the San Francisco Symphony that addresses the effects of greed on our environment and society.

Adams' most recent chamber piece is "Chamber Symphony", which merges the virtuostic expressionism of Schoenberg with the manic world of cartoon soundtrack music. Since its premiere in January 1993, "Chamber Symphony", scored for fifteen instruments, has met with extraordinary success: more than 25 ensembles have performed or scheduled the work. In addition, "Chamber Symphony" won Adams the 1994 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Best Chamber Composition. Other honors include the California Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and the Cyril Magnin Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.

January 1994 marked the debut of Adams' "Violin Concerto", written in an unusual three-way commission between the Minnesota Orchestra, the London Symphony and the New York City Ballet. The latter organization presented the score with choreography by Peter Martins during the 1994-95 season. His newest stage work is a collaboration with Peter Sellars and librettist June Jordan; entitled "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky", it is described by its creators as a 'song play', scored for seven singers and an onstage band of eight instrumentalists.

In 1991, a survey of major orchestras conducted by the American Symphony Orchestra League found John Adams to be the most frequently-performed living American composer.


(from New Albion Records)

John Adams' Official Website: http://www.earbox.com

Extensive Profile Article from NewMusicbox: http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=1050

I really love Adams' work, bold, zany, savvy, beautiful, they are pieces I somehow keep coming back to. The very first Adams work I ever heard was Short Ride in a Fast Machine (the wind version) and it instantly grabbed me. Soon after, we were introduced to his Nixon in China in 1st year music history, and I loved it. We even watched some of the opera, I thought it was genius. Then, Sept. 11, and his On the Transmigration of Souls, when I heard that I was profoundly moved, the way he made it a memory "space" I felt was very fitting.

Harmonielehre
was the piece that cemented him as one of my favorite living composers, I still think it stands as one of his masterpieces. A combination of minimalist techniques and lush, lyrical post-romanticism, it's a gorgeous work with a lot to say. I love to read John Adams' program notes, and writings on his website, there is a fascinating and learned mind behind those large glasses, and he has some perceptive and provocative things to say on artistic philosophy.

Anyone else fans, and what are some of your favorite works?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: longears on November 14, 2007, 05:43:45 AM
Probably my favorite contemporary composer, period.  I'm particularly fond of both his violin concertos, the oratorio El Niño, Shaker Loops, Naive and Sentimental Music, Road Movies, The Chairman Dances, and the Chamber Symphony.  Savvy, indeed, both witty and clever, and a painter of aching beauty.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Kullervo on November 14, 2007, 05:52:16 AM
I've read that Adams is influenced by Sibelius. Since both of you are very familiar with Sibelius, which of Adams's works do you think most clearly showcases this affinity?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: longears on November 14, 2007, 06:12:54 AM
I'll have to give it some thought over the next few days weeks months.

I do think there's something to it.  When I was learning to appreciate Sibelius, one aspect of his work that floored me was the insistent rhythmic underpinnings like deep currents above which float a sea of ever-shifting motivic elements breaking up and recombining in surprising yet retrospectively inevitable shapes.  I had been a fan of Reich and Riley since the early '70s, then Glass and later Adams.  One day a few years ago, when listening to Sibelius's 5th, I had one of those "Aha!" moments when I suddenly realized that he was THE proto-minimalist, that his radical approach to restructuring the symphony had more in common with late 20th Century "Moderns" than with the late 19th Century "Romantics" with whom he was usually classified.  It completely transformed the way I had been listening to Sibelius and prompted my belief that, when history catches up to the 20th Century--say in another 50 or so years--he will be recognized as one of the most enduringly influential figures of his time (and he lived a long time!).

Your query prompts an idea for an experiment:  perhaps this evening I can try listening to, say, Tapiola or The Oceanides and then put on The Chairman Dances back-to-back.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Greta on November 14, 2007, 07:58:48 AM
Yes, yes. I have been thinking this for quite a while. Sibelius, to me, feels like the natural forerunner of minimalism. I think he was way, WAY ahead of his time.

In many of Sibelius' works, just look at his scores, his uniquely detailed string writing, shifting every so slightly in repeated lines, creating this feeling of a musical "stream", with motifs appearing and washing by - this I think plays a big role in some of my favorite minimalist works, especially some of John Adams.

I look at something like the score for Harmonielehre, and texturally see clear links...the lyrical lines passed from group to group, in the midst of a bed of repeated motivic cells, often in competing meter. I also think Adams has a conciseness that reminds me of Sibelius, some of his works are longer, much longer than Sibelius, but he says what needs to be said - or implies it in meaning, another central Sibelian trait.

Speaking of minimalism, I would go a step further... Sibelius was definitely influenced by Bruckner, the mystery, the spirituality, the motivic statements Bruckner generates his music from...the bed of gradually shifting figures that form his harmonic base, also the great weight. The 9th Symphony is where this first occurred to me, that perhaps Bruckner could even be, in some ways, the ultimate ground where the seed of minimalism was planted.

I have a lot of favorite Adams works, besides Harmonielehre, Naive and Sentimental Music (which has a fascinating premise behind it), his My Father Knew Charles Ives is also quite special, as well as The Wound-Dresser. And the more fun stuff such as Fearful Symmetries, Lollapalooza, and much fondness for John's Book of Alleged Dances and the Chamber Symphony which is hilarious. Great clarinet concerto too, called Gnarly Buttons. :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: johnQpublic on November 14, 2007, 08:38:42 AM
I like Adams a lot too. I've praised him for his ability to evolve/morph as he's matured.

About the only piece mentioned so far that I don'r care much for is the Violin Concerto. I find the solo part to be melodically-deficient and rambling in nature. The orchestral parts are better!

The one piece of his I urge everyone to avoid completely is the idiotic "I Was Staring At The Ceiling....." Talk about a mis-calulation. I'd call it Adam's "Wellington Victory" except I like the Beethoven work better.  :D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lukeottevanger on November 14, 2007, 09:53:31 AM
The Sibelius comparison is apt - and it's a point I've often made before. Clearest in his music of the early 80s, perhaps, above all Harmonielehre and Harmonium, my own favourite Adams piece (not his best, perhaps, but his purest, most guilelessly overwhelming piece IMO). The Sibelian influence is evident in the long held 'pedal' textures, slowly evolving and transforming like a landscape; also in the use of slowed-down harmony, producing at the chord change a spectacular effect which Adams refers to as a harmonic 'gate' (hence Phrygian Gate, China Gates, but most sensuously evident in Harmonium). A comparison of (something like) the first movement of Harmonielehre with Tapiola (Sibelius's most Adams-like piece?  ;D ) is quite revealing. I don't think it's too far-fetched to see a similarity to Bruckner in this too - he too uses slowed down harmonic rhythms and extended textures to achieve these massive, overwhelming effects - though I wouldn't suggest that it is conscious or even a real influence. Adams is a magpie, of course - it seems to me, for instance that much of the seemingly idiosyncratic soundworld of The Chairman Dances is really a bit of a steal from a page or two of Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements; a different matter is the clever use of not-quite-quotation (Mahler 10 in Harmonielehre; Schoenberg Chamber Symphony 1 in Adams' own Chamber Symph) which I think is fairly limited to him.

As a teenager he was one of my favourite composers. I have never air-conducted in my life....except to the orgiastic first and (especially) last movements of Harmonium (whose score, as a teenager who didn't know that there were easier ways of getting it, I ordered from the US to me in the UK)! So I've amassed a pretty big Adams collection, including a rarity which even he had forgotten about - a recording on Brian Eno's Obscure label of his American Standards. The first movement of this is essentially Christian Zeal and Activity, underscored with tape of a Fundamentalist Christian radio station. The last movement is a frankly bizarre hommage to Sousa. But the middle movement is the real rarity - a piece frankly based around Ellington's Sophisticated Lady which Adams, in an an interview I have read, said was never performed or recorded because it infringed copyright.....and yet i have a recording!

Anyway - from the 20 or so CDs I have, my favourite works, FWIW, are:

Harmonium
Harmonielehre
The Wound Dresser - an unabashed tear-jerker, but a fine one
El Nino
Naive and Sentimental Music
The Dharma at Big Sur

edit - yes, and the Chamber Symphony - don't know how I forgot that one
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Kullervo on November 14, 2007, 07:47:06 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful responses. You've convinced me to finally take the dive with Adams. :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Hector on November 15, 2007, 04:37:41 AM
Influenced by Sibelius?

I'd have never have thought, but, why not, so many post-War composers have been?

'Grand Pianola Music.'

I once heard, or read, how this cheesy tune kept trieing to insinuate itself  and, of course, takes over to end this piece.

I was quite keen on him a few years back but not so much, now.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lukeottevanger on November 15, 2007, 05:23:25 AM
Influenced by Sibelius?

I'd have never have thought, but, why not, so many post-War composers have been?

Yes, I'd modify that slightly - and I'm guilty of it too, in my above post: I'm not sure we can say 'influenced', as I think the implications of this statement are slightly misleading. I think it more to the point to suggest that there are very strong similarities, but that Adams's music reached this similarity by developing along different lines.

To elaborate: one aspect of Sibelius's music, seen clearly in larger, more slowly evolving movements from En Saga through to Tapiola, draws on certain aspects of earlier romantic music, in which harmonic rhythm is slowed down, so that each harmonic change takes on extra significance and texture moves closer to the forefront of our listening. Important points upon the way include long passages of Beethoven's Pastoral (first movement); parts of Schubert's 9 (with its 'heavenly length'), Wagner's Rheingold Prelude and many passages in Bruckner. To an extent, Sibelius represents the end of the line of this kind of thing, which as I say is Romantic in origin, even though it is sometimes pointed to as a sort of proto-minimalism. Adams, on the other hand, comes (of course) out of Reich et al - especially something like Reich's Desert Music, which is perhaps the most similar to early-80s Adams. In Reich these minimalist textures are a very pure, anti-Romantic feature. Adams, however, very much a Romantic at heart, and not really sharing the hardcore minimalist aesthetic to any great degree, softens their edges, removes some of the process-driven rigour (though enough remains, especially before, say, the Chamber Symphony, for the minimalist tag to still be applicable to some degree). So he arrives at a place somewhere near that reached by Sibelius, but having traveled a different route to get there.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: longears on November 15, 2007, 05:42:02 AM
From an Alex Ross interview with John Adams: (http://www.therestisnoise.com/2004/04/john_adams.html)
Quote
When he was thirteen, the orchestra presented his Suite for String Orchestra, and he became the talk of the village. At this time, he was listening to little twentieth-century music, although he did fall under the spell of Sibelius. "I was used to seeing snow and pine trees in New Hampshire," he explained. "When I went into the record store, I bought albums with snow and pine trees on them. They were all Sibelius." Adams has taken on many other influences with the passing years, but he remains loyal to this early one; echoes of Sibelius’s slowly evolving musical landscapes can be heard in all his major orchestral works.

David Schiff, in an Atlantic Monthly article (http://earbox.com/inter007.html):
Quote
In his great 1984 symphony Harmonielehre, Adams channels Sibelius (Fourth Symphony, 1911) and Mahler (Tenth Symphony, also 1911) in the slow movement, whose title, "The Anfortas Wound," brings the ghost of Wagner to the table. Midway through my first hearing of his recent Naive and Sentimental Music, also a monumental symphony, I became aware that, without allusions or quotations, Adams was following the flight plan of Sibelius's Fifth.

Steve Lomas, in a Proms review of Naive and Sentimental Music: (http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_concert_review.php?id=345)
Quote
(Has any composer been more influential on current musical thinking than Stravinsky?) A metrical modulation triggers the home strait - an outrageously exciting passage culminating in a gigantic pealing of rising scales which cuts off abruptly on a unison trombone crescendo. Adams cites Sibelius as an influence on his work and it was as present here in the straining upward vector of this final music as it was in the long sustained paragraphs of the earlier movements. In fact, of late, ’Sibelius’ seems to be emerging as the answer to the parenthetical question above.

Come to think of it, what's A Short Ride in a Fast Machine but Night Ride and Sunrise in hyperdrive?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 15, 2007, 05:43:41 AM
In his liner notes to the first recording of Harmonielehre he mentions Sibelius as an influence.

Actually, what he says is:

I work hard to achieve that sense of emotional change when a modulation occurs. There are certain composers of the past who mean a great deal to me because of their ability to do that so well -- Beethoven, of course, and Sibelius in his fifth and seventh symphonies, for example.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lukeottevanger on November 15, 2007, 06:03:22 AM
OK, my post (which I know is pretty badly phrased) stands slightly corrected - I have some of these interviews and liner notes myself. OTOH, Longears gives a selection of reviews and commentaries which make the Adams-Sibelius connection, but nothing where Adams says 'my minimalist technique springs from Sibelius' (or something somewhat more circumspect!) Mark's quotation re. the Sibelian aspects of Harmonielehre is to the point, and is in tune with what I have already said here and in the past about this issue and this work in particular - I would point to my first post above and most of my previous posts on Adams on old boards, where I have over and again made this Sibelius-Adams connection, and particularly in regard to the 'emotional change when a modulation occurs' quoted by Mark, which Adams calls harmonic gating and which applies above all to those two works, Harmonium and Harmonielehre.

But my (badly-put) point here is really this: that Sibelius's 'minimalism' is Romantic at source (Beethoven-Schubert-Bruckner-Wagner), whereas Adams, for all his childhood love of Sibelius etc, as a young composer originated in the anti-Romantic minimalist aesthetic and only gradually refound his deeper-felt Romantic leanings (as he gets older, his pieces grow ever more subjective and increasingly explore his own childhood musical). At that point, the circle closes - Adams's early purely minimalist pulsings and phasings (e.g. Phrygian Gates) begin to become more seductive (e.g. Shaker Loops) and gradually merge with Romanticism (e.g. Harmonium leading to Harmonielehre - which is when he starts talking about Sibelius). That's why early Adams relatively similar to Reich, but post 1980 he sounds nothing like him.

So [deep breath!], though Sibelius is consciously in Adams' mind (and I never really meant to imply otherwise, though I know I did, because how could he not be there?) Adams original minimalist technique, which still lies at the technical, objective base of his music, emphatically doesn't come from Sibelius. It is only as he grew more mature, subjective and personal in style, more romantic and less minimalist, that the similarity to Sibelius becomes evident, and that he starts to cite Sibelius as a childhood influence. This is absolutely fascinating on the subjective level of the works concerned, but is slightly misleading on the objective level of the source of Adams' musical technique

Is this any clearer? I doubt it.....  ;D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lukeottevanger on November 15, 2007, 06:20:57 AM
To finish - I'm pretty sure, actually, that Adams as he is now is influenced by Sibelius, because he has grown into a composer working along very similar lines, really a Romantic figure in whom any minimalism that is left is deep-buried and purely technical in nature; the minimalist aesthetic, I would guess, is of little importance to him now. But my previous posts were concerned with where what now seem like clearly Sibelian traits in Adams' style originated, which was somewhere different.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: longears on November 15, 2007, 06:39:24 AM
Sorry for the mistaken impression, Luke.  I wasn't trying to correct you--heck, you sure don't need correction, least of all from a comparative ignoramus like me.  I was trying to flesh out a response to Corey's question about an affinity between Sibelius and works which demonstrate it.

To be influenced by Sibelius is hardly to be a poor imitation-which Adams certainly isn't.  Interesting for me to ponder that, aside from the musical similarities--the polyrhythmic underpinnings and colorful shape-shifting motifs growing organically into sublime flowering climaxes then fading on the tide--both also grew out of their roots in the dominant musical language of their day to craft unique forms of musical expression tied to traditional ideas of tonality and beauty.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lukeottevanger on November 15, 2007, 06:47:00 AM
  Interesting for me to ponder that, aside from the musical similarities--the polyrhythmic underpinnings and colorful shape-shifting motifs growing organically into sublime flowering climaxes then fading on the tide--both also grew out of their roots in the dominant musical language of their day to craft unique forms of musical expression tied to traditional ideas of tonality and beauty.

 :)

I like this very much (my italics just to show the bit which I particularly liked!) - you say something similar to what I was trying to say, only much more concisely!! Yes, both composers progressed from different starting points to somewhere strikingly similar; in the process, at some point, Adams also moved closer to Sibelius aesthetically.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lukeottevanger on November 15, 2007, 06:47:58 AM
BTw, comparative or otherwise, ignoramus you certainly ain't!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Greta on May 29, 2008, 02:29:30 PM
Who has heard/seen Doctor Atomic yet?  :) There is a good video of the Amsterdam production at Operashare, and a few radio recordings floating around. Anyone know if there is a libretto somewhere that can be viewed?

I'm not sure what to make of this yet, I think it's a mixed bag like some of Adams' other operas...the staging is imaginative, and the subject compelling, but there are moments where things seem to drag. There is certainly a lot of great music in there though, a couple of gorgeous arias and an impressive chorus (the Bhagavad Vita), and some heavy-hitting orchestral writing a la Harmonielehre.

What do you guys think? I need to find a recording of the "Doctor Atomic Symphony" too, now I am curious to hear it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Guido on December 18, 2008, 04:05:08 AM
Anybody managing to see the new string quartet in January?

http://www.earbox.com/W-string-quartet.html

Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Benji on February 12, 2009, 02:22:15 PM
[Copied over from the WAYLT thread in case anyone doesn't follow that torrent of a thread]

Ok my friends - for your listening pleasure:

The world premiere of John Adams' The Dharma at Big Sur for electric violin and orchestra. Tracy Silverman, electric violin. Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra - Esa-Pekka Salonen. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 24th October 2003.

The Dharma at Big Sur.mp3 (http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/2/5/2307936/The%20Dharma%20at%20Big%20Sur.mp3)

Again, only a recording of a low bitrate webcast so not the best sound quality by any means.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Benji on February 12, 2009, 02:29:24 PM
And the Harmonilehre live recording too....

It seems the website I obtained the recording from has removed the files, so i've split my file into 3 bits and uploaded it so you can listen, if you want to:

John Adams - Harmonielehre (San Franciso Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas (Live) - Part I (http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/2/5/2307936/01.%20Harmonielehre%20-%20I.mp3)
John Adams - Harmonielehre (San Franciso Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas (Live) - Part II (http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/2/5/2307936/02.%20Harmonielehre%20-%20II.mp3)
John Adams - Harmonielehre (San Franciso Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas (Live) - Part III (http://www.fileden.com/files/2009/2/5/2307936/03.%20Harmonielehre%20-%20III.mp3)

It's a brilliant performance of what is, IMHO, a masterpiece. I hope MTT will see his way to making a studio recording at some point, with the same orchestra. I would definitely be asking Santa for that. 


(It is an old webcast recording so as long as you don't expect CD quality you won't be disappointed!)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Joe Barron on October 16, 2009, 11:02:39 AM
I actually don't like Adams very much, but I have to say: I heard his new piece, City Noir on the car radio last night and was rather taken with it. either his recent music is different from his earlier music, or the idiom is growing on e. Either way, it was an attractive piece, though a bit of a mishmash, as much postmodern music seems to be. Granted, the reception wasn't great and the volume was down, but I could see myself listening to it again.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Brewski on October 16, 2009, 01:04:22 PM
Next Wednesday on Great Performances, PBS is showing Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in their opening night concert taped at Disney Hall, with City Noir and Mahler's First Symphony.  While I haven't heard any of it yet, I've already spoken with several people who were there, and they were pretty unanimous in their praise.  And none of these people are Adams fans, but they liked his piece quite a bit.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 18, 2009, 09:46:48 PM
Next Wednesday on Great Performances, PBS is showing Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in their opening night concert taped at Disney Hall, with City Noir and Mahler's First Symphony.  While I haven't heard any of it yet, I've already spoken with several people who were there, and they were pretty unanimous in their praise.  And none of these people are Adams fans, but they liked his piece quite a bit.

I too am interested in hearing this piece. I haven't paid close attention to anything by Adams since Naive and Sentimental Music, which is about 10 years old, so I have no idea how his sound-world has evolved since then. What does City Noir sound like?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Guido on October 19, 2009, 06:26:55 AM
Hopefully this will turn up on youtube. I am also really very keen to hear his new string quartet.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: UB on October 24, 2009, 10:16:11 AM
Hopefully this will turn up on youtube. I am also really very keen to hear his new string quartet.

You can listen to about 2/3 of the premiere of this work - that is the whole first movement - here (http://www.cbc.ca/radio2/cod/concerts/20091003stlwq). Unfortunately CBC duplicated one of the Ravel movements so Adams' comments is at the 1st movement link, the first movement is at the 2nd movement link, and there is no link for the second movement. I have written to them about the problem and hopefully they will fix it in the near future.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Guido on October 24, 2009, 03:49:46 PM
Cheers!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: UB on October 28, 2009, 08:38:21 AM
They have repaired the links - 2nd movement is lots of fun. BTW - the Ravel SQ is excellent.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Catison on November 10, 2009, 06:03:32 PM
They have repaired the links - 2nd movement is lots of fun. BTW - the Ravel SQ is excellent.

Listening now.  This is cool!  Thanks!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: UB on November 10, 2009, 09:02:21 PM
I could not see where it is mentioned that not to long ago Adams started a blog on his website. Some of the posts give insights into his music and composing.

Hell Mouth (http://www.earbox.com/posts)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 01, 2010, 08:34:28 PM
Pitiful that this great composer only has two pages of posts. What a shame.
 
Lately, I've been getting back into John Adams' music as I have also been getting back into Minimalism gradually over a period of time. My favorite Minimalists are Part, Adams, and Reich. I'm less impressed with Glass, Nyman, Terry Riley, etc. The first Adams work I heard was Harmonielehre, Short Ride In A Fast Machine, and The Chairman Dances. All of these works that I heard were on the same recording with Simon Rattle/CBSO. A great disc and introduction to this composer if you haven't already heard it. I bought 6 more recordings in hopes that I will continue to gain a better understanding and appreciation of his music.
 
I'm hoping in the next couple of months to also buy a recording of some of his operas most importantly Nixon In China, which from what I've read is a masterpiece of late 20th Century opera. I'm also hoping to pickup The Transmigration of Souls at some point as well.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 02, 2010, 02:18:30 AM
The first Adams work I heard was Harmonielehre, Short Ride In A Fast Machine, and The Chairman Dances. All of these works that I heard were on the same recording with Simon Rattle/CBSO. A great disc and introduction to this composer if you haven't already heard it.

Yeah, that was my first Adams disc too. Still my favorite. I find Adams rather uneven - but those of his works that I like, I like a lot.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: karlhenning on November 02, 2010, 03:57:49 AM
. . . I find Adams rather uneven . . . .

Ditto. I still haven't heard anything of his which has impressed me better than Shaker Loops.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 02, 2010, 08:04:55 AM
Yeah, that was my first Adams disc too. Still my favorite. I find Adams rather uneven - but those of his works that I like, I like a lot.

Yes, Adams is definitely uneven. In fact, of his newer works (2000-2010), I have found that I only like The Dharma of Big Sur so far. I find this work quite refreshing and inspired.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Benji on November 02, 2010, 08:13:23 AM

Yes, Adams is definitely uneven. In fact, of his newer works (2000-2010), I have found that I only like The Dharma of Big Sur so far. I find this work quite refreshing and inspired.

Absolutely - that concerto is wonderful, one of my very favourite pieces from the last few years. I think about that and Lindberg's clarinet concerto and they make me warm and fuzzy inside at the thought that fantastic, soulful music is still being created within the realm of 'classical' music. 

My only nitpick is that the recording available, with the BBCSO and John Adams, doesn't have the same impact or excitement that the live premier (with the LA Phil and Salonen) had. I have a download of the webcast from that night and it is....electric  ;)  If anyone wants to hear it I'll try to upload it somewhere for you to d/l, just pm me.

I suppose the other thing is that the piece seems so specific to Tracy Silverman that I wonder if it will ever get the performances to guarantee it the concert hall success it deserves. I'd love to hear if anyone has seen it on a concert program without Silverman playing it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on November 02, 2010, 12:15:20 PM
Absolutely - that concerto is wonderful, one of my very favourite pieces from the last few years. I think about that and Lindberg's clarinet concerto and they make me warm and fuzzy inside at the thought that fantastic, soulful music is still being created within the realm of 'classical' music. 

My only nitpick is that the recording available, with the BBCSO and John Adams, doesn't have the same impact or excitement that the live premier (with the LA Phil and Salonen) had. I have a download of the webcast from that night and it is....electric  ;)  If anyone wants to hear it I'll try to upload it somewhere for you to d/l, just pm me.

I suppose the other thing is that the piece seems so specific to Tracy Silverman that I wonder if it will ever get the performances to guarantee it the concert hall success it deserves. I'd love to hear if anyone has seen it on a concert program without Silverman playing it.

I think the piece is wonderful and I thought the recording was great, but I'm sure seeing it live in the concert hall is whole other experience altogether. If I'm not mistaken, I heard Leila Josefowicz performed this work live, but there's not a recording of it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: PaulThomas on November 02, 2010, 02:12:58 PM
Great to see a John Adams thread!

I am listening to Harmonium as I type!

Yesterday I booked for Nixon in China at the Met next February -conducted by the man himself -v.v. excited.

Has anyone heard the new Naxos recording of Nixon, how does it compare to the Edo De Waart version?

My favourite Adams piece is undoubtedly Hallelujah Junction, an absolutely inspired piece for 2 pianos, this recording is stunning

Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 03, 2010, 04:31:48 AM
My favourite Adams piece is undoubtedly Hallelujah Junction, an absolutely inspired piece for 2 pianos,

Speaking of which, has anyone heard the Naxos recording of the piano music?:

http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=10786
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Luke on November 03, 2010, 05:53:28 AM
I have it....erm, I can't say I've listened to it yet! Mack Macray's old recording of Phrygian Gates does me very well indeed, and the other pieces have never struck me as forcefully as that one. But I must give it a spin...
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on February 18, 2012, 06:01:30 AM
Why is there so little appreciation for Adams here on GMG?

Harmonielehre is one of my favourite works. Listening to it now in fact, mainly to get me even more excited about the new release of the piece from the SFO/MTT. Anyone else as excited? Will hopefully get some more excitement here, more so than I got on the 'New Releases' thread at least! ;)



Such an amazing piece! Certainly very inspiring for my own music also. Lets raise Adams' popularity here on GMG! :D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on February 18, 2012, 07:10:03 AM
Why is there so little appreciation for Adams here on GMG?

Harmonielehre is one of my favourite works. Listening to it now in fact, mainly to get me even more excited about the new release of the piece from the SFO/MTT. Anyone else as excited? Will hopefully get some more excitement here, more so than I got on the 'New Releases' thread at least! ;)



Such an amazing piece! Certainly very inspiring for my own music also. Lets raise Adams' popularity here on GMG! :D

This looks like it's going to be a good release. I'll probably buy it (eventually). I'm not sure why John Adams isn't more popular around here, but it's also not surprising or shouldn't be because Adams has many detractors. I personally enjoy his music, but he has composed some first-rate junk in his career. Some personal favorites: Naive & Sentimental Music, Violin Concerto, Harmonielehre, and The Dharma at Big Sur.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on February 18, 2012, 08:07:52 AM
This looks like it's going to be a good release. I'll probably buy it (eventually). I'm not sure why John Adams isn't more popular around here, but it's also not surprising or shouldn't be because Adams has many detractors. I personally enjoy his music, but he has composed some first-rate junk in his career. Some personal favorites: Naive & Sentimental Music, Violin Concerto, Harmonielehre, and The Dharma at Big Sur.

Glad to know you enjoy his music too, John. Yes, I did notice that there are quite a few people who seem to hate Adams' music... I suppose some people just can't deal with minimalism altogether. I love it though!
It certainly does look like a good release... I am really very excited about it! This will be the third recording won't it? The Rattle is excellent, but I haven't heard the De Waart.
Two interesting links about the release here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdz5QOaqpbk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdz5QOaqpbk)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHDJQ_kfmCg&feature=relmfu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHDJQ_kfmCg&feature=relmfu)

I love all the Adams I have heard so far. Harmonielehre would have to be one of my all time favourites though. I am thinking of listening to the 'Doctor Atomic' Symphony next. :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Luke on February 18, 2012, 08:46:18 AM
Silence about a composer needn't mean that no one likes him, or even that there are detractors here. In the 12+  years I've been on this board and its predecessors I've been involved in plenty of good discussions about Adams, a composer whose work I often adore (I think I have every piece of his committed to CD and quite a few committed only to vinyl too, plus scores of many of his major works).

My favourite pieces of Adams, FWIW (which isn't much) -

Harmonium
Harmonielehre
The Dharma at Big Sur (for me the most successful of his more recent pieces)
Chamber Symphony 1
The Wound Dresser

but there are som many fabulous curios in his oeuvre which are all well-worth exploring
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on February 18, 2012, 10:31:21 AM
My favourite pieces of Adams, FWIW (which isn't much) -

Harmonium
Harmonielehre
The Dharma at Big Sur (for me the most successful of his more recent pieces)
Chamber Symphony 1
The Wound Dresser

Everyone seems to be praising the Dharma, and since I like everything else on Luke's list, I guess I should get hold of it. In fact, I haven't listened to any Adams for a couple of years - might be time for a revisit.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 12:00:57 PM
Silence about a composer needn't mean that no one likes him, or even that there are detractors here. In the 12+  years I've been on this board and its predecessors I've been involved in plenty of good discussions about Adams, a composer whose work I often adore (I think I have every piece of his committed to CD and quite a few committed only to vinyl too, plus scores of many of his major works).

My favourite pieces of Adams, FWIW (which isn't much) -

Harmonium
Harmonielehre
The Dharma at Big Sur (for me the most successful of his more recent pieces)
Chamber Symphony 1
The Wound Dresser

but there are som many fabulous curios in his oeuvre which are all well-worth exploring

This is true, Luke. I shouldn't have assumed that just because people don't talk about Adams on GMG it doesn't mean people dislike the music. This said, from your list the only one I'm very unsure about is Chamber Symphony. I don't recall liking it when I first heard it, listened to it again a couple of months ago, and still I don't find the work that that interesting. I find Grand Pianola Music more to my liking (since this work is coupled with Chamber Symphony). Anyway, yes, Harmonium and Harmonielehre are, in my estimate, masterworks. The Wound Dresser I need to listen to again as it's been too long. I only own the Nonesuch recording of it (coupled with Fearful Symmetries). The Dharma at Big Sur is classic Adams. It has the spirit and freedom of his early works, but with the new sophistication of his recent work.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 12:41:33 PM
I wonder if City Noir will ever make it onto CD? I don't want Dudamel's performance. I'd like to hear a Nonesuch production maybe with John Adams conducting LA Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, or Orchestra of St. Luke's.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on May 07, 2012, 01:26:07 PM
I wonder if City Noir will ever make it onto CD? I don't want Dudamel's performance. I'd like to hear a Nonesuch production maybe with John Adams conducting LA Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, or Orchestra of St. Luke's.

I've heard both John Adams and Dudamel conduct City Noir, and, believe me, you are not missing much. It is a nebulous monstrosity of work that ultimately goes nowhere. If there's anything "Los Angeles" about it (take it from me, I'm a native Angelino), it's that it reminds me of the daily morning gridlock on the 10 freeway. It has its moments of excitement and brilliant orchestral flourishes and colors, but ultimately it seems all for naught.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 07, 2012, 01:31:51 PM
I've heard both John Adams and Dudamel conduct City Noir, and, believe me, you are not missing much. It is a nebulous monstrosity of work that ultimately goes nowhere. If there's anything "Los Angeles" about it (take it from me, I'm a native Angelino), it's that it reminds me of the daily morning gridlock on the 10 freeway. It has its moments of excitement and brilliant orchestral flourishes and colors, but ultimately it seems all for naught.

That's what I was afraid of --- all flash, no substance.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 08, 2012, 10:33:56 AM
Listening to Waart's performance of Harmonielehre on the recommendation of John. It is certainly amazing.

Through this listening, I have come to love the piece even more. The sound worlds really fascinate and move me. Highly beautiful!

It was around this time last year that I was first introduced to the piece, by my friend, Alexander Prior (I'm sure you'll remember him, John! ;) ). He was giving me a few conducting lessons, and this led to him showing me the score of Harmonielehre. And of course, that led to him playing a little bit to me. I was absolutely amazed. The music really excited me. When I got home, I went straight to go and listen to the piece in full.

Such a great piece. I really hope I'll be able to get the MTT really soon! :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 08, 2012, 10:38:42 AM
Just ended. Absolutely amazing!!!!! :) Such a thrilling finale!!!!

Thank you very much for suggesting that I should listen to this performance, John! Excellent! :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 08, 2012, 10:45:59 AM
Listening to Waart's performance of Harmonielehre on the recommendation of John. It is certainly amazing.

Through this listening, I have come to love the piece even more. The sound worlds really fascinate and move me. Highly beautiful!

It was around this time last year that I was first introduced to the piece, by my friend, Alexander Prior (I'm sure you'll remember him, John! ;) ). He was giving me a few conducting lessons, and this led to him showing me the score of Harmonielehre. And of course, that led to him playing a little bit to me. I was absolutely amazed. The music really excited me. When I got home, I went straight to go and listen to the piece in full.

Such a great piece. I really hope I'll be able to get the MTT really soon! :)

Alexander Prior introduced you to this work? Oh dear. Well I'll still bash Philip Glass when I have the chance! ;) :D

Yeah Daniel, Waart's performance is certainly good. I'm listening to the Robertson performance right now and I'm really impressed with it so far. It was downloaded at a high bit rate too (320 kbps) so it sounds excellent. Like the MTT, this is a live performance.

There's something so compelling about this music and I think one of the things that won me over was the fact that there's so many strains of different kinds of music inside of this work but everything is so seamless and flowing. There's also a poignant lyricism that runs deeply through each movement. This is a work I've really come to love and be moved by.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 08, 2012, 11:36:15 AM
Alexander Prior introduced you to this work? Oh dear. Well I'll still bash Philip Glass when I have the chance! ;) :D

Yeah Daniel, Waart's performance is certainly good. I'm listening to the Robertson performance right now and I'm really impressed with it so far. It was downloaded at a high bit rate too (320 kbps) so it sounds excellent. Like the MTT, this is a live performance.

There's something so compelling about this music and I think one of the things that won me over was the fact that there's so many strains of different kinds of music inside of this work but everything is so seamless and flowing. There's also a poignant lyricism that runs deeply through each movement. This is a work I've really come to love and be moved by.

haha ;)

Glad you are enjoying the Robertson performance! I wonder if any other conductors plan on taking up Harmonielehre... Adams is conducting the LSO in it here himself live sometime next year. I would love to go, not sure if I'll be able to though....

I completely agree with what you are saying about the work. I have really come to love and be moved by it too. Such a masterpiece!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 08, 2012, 11:38:35 AM
haha ;)

Glad you are enjoying the Robertson performance! I wonder if any other conductors plan on taking up Harmonielehre... Adams is conducting the LSO in it here himself live sometime next year. I would love to go, not sure if I'll be able to though....

I completely agree with what you are saying about the work. I have really come to love and be moved by it too. Such a masterpiece!

Daniel, you should try and make it that Adams LSO concert. You may be able to meet the composer and he can autograph that MTT recording (assuming you'll own at t his point).
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 08, 2012, 11:42:37 AM
Daniel, you should try and make it that Adams LSO concert. You may be able to meet the composer and he can autograph that MTT recording (assuming you'll own at t his point).

I would certainly love to. And will try to. If it's on a Saturday, my Academy friends and I can go to it together and go backstage afterwards! It certainly would be quite amazing to meet Adams. And many of my Academy friends are big Adams fans! My dad is not such a big Adams fan. I don't think he has heard Harmonielehre yet though, maybe this work will change his mind about Adams. It's just a matter of whether I can get him to listen to it! :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 08, 2012, 11:50:17 AM
I would certainly love to. And will try to. If it's on a Saturday, my Academy friends and I can go to it together and go backstage afterwards! It certainly would be quite amazing to meet Adams. And many of my Academy friends are big Adams fans! My dad is not such a big Adams fan. I don't think he has heard Harmonielehre yet though, maybe this work will change his mind about Adams. It's just a matter of whether I can get him to listen to it! :)

If you're Dad has an open-mind about music, then I think he'll come to appreciate Adams' music.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 08, 2012, 12:06:09 PM
If you're Dad has an open-mind about music, then I think he'll come to appreciate Adams' music.

I think he will too. :)
Title: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on May 08, 2012, 12:21:51 PM
(http://img.tapatalk.com/4c61fab9-8e08-98c8.jpg)


 After 15 years still my favorite Adams disc and piece, Grand Pianola Music.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 08, 2012, 12:27:51 PM
(http://img.tapatalk.com/4c61fab9-8e08-98c8.jpg)


 After 15 years still my favorite Adams disc and piece, Grand Pianola Music.

A great recording no doubt. Grand Pianola Music is one of many of my favorite Adams works.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on May 09, 2012, 04:02:24 AM
I like that disc too, though mainly for the Chamber Symphony.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 14, 2012, 10:53:50 AM
I listened to Adams' Harmonielehre (Waart/San Francisco Symphony) after that work had been warmly recommended to me; it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
I really enjoyed the whole piece, which showed a brilliant orchestration and a splendid harmony, but I was particularly impressed by the second and the third movement, they were very expressive and thrilling. The climaxes used made me shudder, such a great, beautiful music!

I'm looking forward to listening to other Adams' compositions. :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 14, 2012, 11:11:09 AM
I listened to Adams' Harmonielehre (Waart/San Francisco Symphony) after that work had been warmly recommended to me; it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
I really enjoyed the whole piece, which showed a brilliant orchestration and a splendid harmony, but I was particularly impressed by the second and the third movement, they were very expressive and thrilling. The climaxes used made me shudder, such a great, beautiful music!

I'm looking forward to listening to other Adams' compositions. :)

So glad to hear that you enjoyed Harmonielehre, Ilaria! Beautiful description, I agree with it all!

I am currently in the process of exploring Adams' works too, although  Harmonielehre has been a favourite for a long time.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 14, 2012, 11:53:10 AM
So glad to hear that you enjoyed Harmonielehre, Ilaria! Beautiful description, I agree with it all!

I am currently in the process of exploring Adams' works too, although  Harmonielehre has been a favourite for a long time.

Thank you, Daniel! You and John didn't exaggerate saying that Harmonielehre was a masterpiece. ;D

Was Adams influenced by Gustav Holst, by the way? I thought of Saturn and Neptune while listening to the second movement, Th Amfortas Wound.....

Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on May 14, 2012, 03:39:30 PM
Thank you, Daniel! You and John didn't exaggerate saying that Harmonielehre was a masterpiece. ;D

Was Adams influenced by Gustav Holst, by the way? I thought of Saturn and Neptune while listening to the second movement, Th Amfortas Wound.....

Check this out, Ilaria:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zHDJQ_kfmCg
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 15, 2012, 08:29:46 AM
Check this out, Ilaria:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zHDJQ_kfmCg

Thank you, John! ;D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 24, 2013, 09:34:00 AM

Was Adams influenced by Gustav Holst, by the way? I thought of Saturn and Neptune while listening to the second movement, Th Amfortas Wound.....

Always interesting how we hear things so differently. I hear a strong Berg influence in The Amfortas Wound.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 24, 2013, 10:06:35 AM
I hear a strong Berg influence in The Amfortas Wound.

I hear a strong Mahler and Sibelius influence. It starts with a quote or near-quote of Sibelius' 4th Symphony, and the climax with screaming trumpet evokes the Adagio of Mahler's 10th.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 24, 2013, 10:17:07 AM
I hear a strong Mahler and Sibelius influence. It starts with a quote or near-quote of Sibelius' 4th Symphony, and the climax with screaming trumpet evokes the Adagio of Mahler's 10th.

Quite right, I guess I wasn't far off when I said Berg, especially since Mahler was such an influence on the composer. ;)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 24, 2013, 11:06:08 AM
Maybe it's just me who hears some Berg in The Amfortas Wound? The moment I'm thinking about is one of the climaxes towards the end where I heard some Expressionistic-type of dissonance. Anyway, just my ears playing tricks on me yet again, but it's just what I hear.

Looking through my Adams recordings and here's what I own:

-Doctor Atomic Symphony, Guide To Strange Places, David Robertson, St. Louis SO, Nonesuch
-Naive & Sentimental Music, Esa-Pekka Salonen, LA Philharmonic, Nonesuch
-The Chairman Dances, Two Fanfares for Orchestra, etc., Edo de Waart, San Francisco SO, Nonesuch
-Harmonium, Edo de Waart, San Francisco SO & Chorus, ECM
-Harmonielehre, Edo de Waart, San Francisco SO, Nonesuch
-Harmonielehre, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Tilson Thomas, San Francisco SO, SFSO Media
-Harmonielehre, David Robertson, St. Louis SO, Nonesuch (available as download only)
-Harmonielehre, The Chairman Dances, etc., Simon Rattle, City of Birmingham SO, EMI
-Nixon in China, Edo de Waart, Orchestra of St. Luke's, various soloists, Nonesuch
-The Death of Klinghoffer, Kent Nagano, Orchestra of the Opera de Lyon, Nonesuch
-Harmonium, Chorus from 'Death of Klinghoffer,' John Adams, San Francisco SO & Chorus, Orchestra of Opera de Lyon & Chorus, Nonesuch
-Century Rolls, Lollapalooza, Slonimsky's Earbox, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Kent Nagano, Cleveland Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Emanuel Ax, Nonesuch
-El Nino, various soloists, Kent Nagano, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Theatre of Voices, London Voices, Nonesuch
-El Dorado, etc., John Adams, Kent Nagano, London Sinfonietta, Halle Orchestra, Nonesuch
-Gnarly Buttons, John's Book of Alleged Dances, John Adams, London Sinfonietta, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch
-Chamber Symphony, Grand Pianola Music, John Adams, London Sinfonietta, Nonesuch
-The Wound-Dresser, Fearful Symmetries, John Adams, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Nonesuch
-The Dharma at Big Sur, My Father Knew Charles Ives, John Adams, Tracy Silverman, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Nonesuch
-Violin Concerto, Shaker Loops, Kent Nagano, London Symphony Orchestra, John Adams, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Gidon Kremer, Nonesuch
-On the Transmigration of Souls, Lorin Maazel, New York Philharmonic, Nonesuch
-A Flowering Tree, John Adams, London Symphony Orchestra, Nonesuch
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 24, 2013, 05:08:16 PM
Ah ha! I knew it. Listening to Harmonielehre right now (MTT/SFSO performance) and I'm on The Amfortas Wound movement and Berg hit me right at 8:57-9:08. A short little phrase that sounds like it was taken right out of Berg's Violin Concerto. I knew Berg was in there somewhere. :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on April 24, 2013, 06:32:00 PM
The only kind of expressionism I hear in The Amfortas Wound is the sort of Expressionism that Mahler (arguably) dabbled in, obviously of the Romantic variety. There is undoubtedly a quotation of the climax from the 10th symphony, first movement, and the trumpet solo that heralds that huge chord is there also. Listen to the two side by side and it almost feels like one work bleeds into the other.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 24, 2013, 07:19:23 PM
The only kind of expressionism I hear in The Amfortas Wound is the sort of Expressionism that Mahler (arguably) dabbled in, obviously of the Romantic variety. There is undoubtedly a quotation of the climax from the 10th symphony, first movement, and the trumpet solo that heralds that huge chord is there also. Listen to the two side by side and it almost feels like one work bleeds into the other.

That section I was talking about in The Amfortas Wound around 8:57-9:08 doesn't sound like it was lifted from Berg's Violin Concerto to you?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on April 24, 2013, 10:23:17 PM
That section I was talking about in The Amfortas Wound around 8:57-9:08 doesn't sound like it was lifted from Berg's Violin Concerto to you?

Actually, that is exactly what I was talking about. The chord has a very similar sonority to the one in Mahler 10, and they both sound like they are similarly constructed. I would do a score comparison of the two, but it is far too late to do that. I don't hear a similarity to the Berg Violin Concerto, personally.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Luke on April 25, 2013, 12:37:31 AM
Adams modeled the slow movement of Harmonielehre around Mahler 10 specifically and deliberately. It is both in-your-face obvious and also documented (somewhere, though I am at work and can't recall where!)

Early on in the ancient and by-me much-missed mystery scores thread (AKA Best Thread Ever) I posted one of the pages of this climax, for those who'd like to see the score here: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3125.msg75915.html#msg75915

This is the last outburst of the chord, and the extraordinary high violin scream that follows, quickly sinking into a softer bed of sound. A great page of music.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 25, 2013, 05:40:35 AM
Actually, that is exactly what I was talking about. The chord has a very similar sonority to the one in Mahler 10, and they both sound like they are similarly constructed. I would do a score comparison of the two, but it is far too late to do that. I don't hear a similarity to the Berg Violin Concerto, personally.

I'm not talking about the whole movement sounding like Berg but rather that one little sliver of sound, but I'm done talking about this as this is just what I hear. I've heard Mahler's Adagio many times but I do not hear Mahler in The Amfortas Wound. We all hear things differently.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 25, 2013, 07:54:41 PM
Time to highlight some compositions by Adams that I truly love:

Violin Concerto -

John Adams' Violin Concerto (1993) represents something of an aesthetic shift for the composer, perhaps reflecting a "post-post-modernist" world view. Continuing in a direction suggested in the early '90s by the increasingly ambiguous harmonies and rhythms of works such as the opera Death of Klinghoffer and the Chamber Symphony, the Violin Concerto's unceasing melody and immediate -- rather than cumulative -- expressivity strike a sharp contrast with the motoric mysticism of Adams' early works. The work follows a traditional three-movement plan: a lengthy, dramatic first movement is followed by a chaconne that is both staid and warmly intimate, which in turn leads into a bustling, high-energy finale. The most prominent remnant of Adams' minimalist beginnings is the use of textural blocks that serve as background for the solo part. The textures, however, are built upon instrumental color and varying figures used in the accompaniment rather than on the steady rhythmic flow and glacial harmonic rhythm typical of the composer's early works. The first movement, titled simply with a metronomic designation (quarter note = 78), begins with a series of eerily rising legato lines in the strings. The soloist enters almost immediately and will hardly find a moment of rest during the course of the work. As the violin explores different modes of melody and figuration, certain ideas are picked up and tossed around by the orchestra, while the initial succession of rising parallel chords in the strings spreads its increasing tension to the winds and brass. The use of synthesizers -- a hallmark of Adams' orchestral music -- contributes to the overall color spectrum while providing distinctive color. As the movement progresses, the rising lines shift from legato to pizzicato as the solo line grows more and more urgent. The accompaniment becomes sparser, completely dissolving with the arrival of the violin's extended cadenza. The cadenza melts into the long, sustained tones of the chaconne. With its subterranean ground bass, this movement exudes a tranquil yet troubled aura akin to fusion of Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory" and Pachelbel's Canon in D (the use of which as source material Adams acknowledges in his notes). Again, electronic sounds provide an ethereality to the familiar bass line, while the orchestra and soloist play both with and against the ear's expectations; some figures are foreign, others similar to Pachelbel's original. As though in contrast to the principle of repetition embodied in Pachelbel's canon, an unobtrusive pattern on the marimba cycles in the background. After the final sustained tones of the second movement evaporate, the Toccata begins with a sudden burst of aggressive energy. Frenzied patterns that appear in defined blocks suddenly break into colorful fragments, creating a variety of gestures and textures that, borne upon the movement's unflagging rhythmic and metric flow, carry the work to its close. This work was composed, as the composer states, "always with the goal of making the musical idea and the reality of its execution one and the same thing." In this sense, the exploratory yet expressive nature of the solo part makes it a work both for and about the violin.

[Taken from All Music Guide]
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Octave on April 25, 2013, 08:04:14 PM
From the Listening thread:
Now:

(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000005J1B.01.L.jpg)

It's been a few years since I've heard this opera. I'm finding my impression of it this time around much more favorable. Truly some gorgeous moments throughout.

Did you see the film of it?  I rented it from Netflix last year, or the year before, and wasn't really into it; oddly, being such a film freak, I felt like I would have enjoyed a lavishly-filmed stage production, with the hybrid tilting toward the stage instead of toward cinema, as was attempted by the film.  I also disliked the music, but that's just a small bump in the road; a different day, and on CD, it might click.  I'm still trying to get around to getting an audio recording of NIXON IN CHINA, which I've been delaying for ever; cannot yet decide between De Waart and Alsop.

Did you see the film I AM LOVE (Luca Guadagnino, 2009)?  I was mainly motivated to see it by some totally false grapevine that Adams had contributed original music to the film; unfortunately, the movie just cannibalized some of his hits.  That turned out to be fine, because it worked beautifully (no surprise there) and elevated the film, which was otherwise mostly-lurid, for better and worse.  (I also like melodramas, so my threshold for blarney is fairly high.)  I hope this does not become a trend...it would be terrible to have his music routinized. 
Quote
"It's strange to hear your own music used in a context you didn't create," said Adams. "It's kind of disorienting at first and it takes some time to get used to it." He added that he was pleased with the film overall and that it made excellent use of his compositions.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/06/john-adams-lends-his-music-to-i-am-love-starring-tilda-swinton.html (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/06/john-adams-lends-his-music-to-i-am-love-starring-tilda-swinton.html)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 26, 2013, 05:32:31 AM
From the Listening thread:
Did you see the film of it?  I rented it from Netflix last year, or the year before, and wasn't really into it; oddly, being such a film freak, I felt like I would have enjoyed a lavishly-filmed stage production, with the hybrid tilting toward the stage instead of toward cinema, as was attempted by the film.  I also disliked the music, but that's just a small bump in the road; a different day, and on CD, it might click.  I'm still trying to get around to getting an audio recording of NIXON IN CHINA, which I've been delaying for ever; cannot yet decide between De Waart and Alsop.

Did you see the film I AM LOVE (Luca Guadagnino, 2009)?  I was mainly motivated to see it by some totally false grapevine that Adams had contributed original music to the film; unfortunately, the movie just cannibalized some of his hits.  That turned out to be fine, because it worked beautifully (no surprise there) and elevated the film, which was otherwise mostly-lurid, for better and worse.  (I also like melodramas, so my threshold for blarney is fairly high.)  I hope this does not become a trend...it would be terrible to have his music routinized.  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/06/john-adams-lends-his-music-to-i-am-love-starring-tilda-swinton.html (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/06/john-adams-lends-his-music-to-i-am-love-starring-tilda-swinton.html)

I liked The Death of Klinghoffer this time around better than last time. It's quite a serious work for Adams who always seems to be 'smiling' in so many of his works. I like the music itself a lot, but I've never been into opera vocals. I tune those out as much as I can. I do like the choral sections as well and thought they were beautifully integrated into the music. Is it a work I'll frequent from now on? Absolutely not. I feel the same way about Nixon in China and The Flowering Tree. Some great music, but not a work I listen to very often. I'm still trying to get into El Nino. Think this will be a work I'll listen to on one of my days off so I can give it my full attention.

I have not seen the film I Am Love. I'll extremely picky about films I watch, so I'll check it out at some point.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Octave on April 26, 2013, 05:37:44 AM
I have not seen the film I Am Love. I'll extremely picky about films I watch, so I'll check it out at some point.

Well....caveat emptor.  I did not hate it, especially the marvelous dialogue-free reaction-shot-tennis ending sequence with Harmonielehre in full glorious bombast.  But....it's a pomo melodrama, with some really nutty-bad writing.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 26, 2013, 07:39:31 AM
Time to highlight some compositions by Adams that I truly love:

Violin Concerto -

John Adams' Violin Concerto (1993) represents something of an aesthetic shift for the composer, perhaps reflecting a "post-post-modernist" world view. Continuing in a direction suggested in the early '90s [etc.]

[Taken from All Music Guide]

This is one of those pieces that I don't like as much as I think I should. Maybe it's the overly meandering quality. Might be time for a revisit.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on April 26, 2013, 01:50:20 PM
This is one of those pieces that I don't like as much as I think I should. Maybe it's the overly meandering quality. Might be time for a revisit.
I have the same feeling about it. The outer movements have so much busy passagework in them, perhaps because the material just isn't that memorable.

On the other hand, I do have to say that the ending of the opening movement, where the tempo drops and ideas from the slow movement start appearing, is one of the most magical moments in Adams' work. And the slow movement itself is very fine, and IMO it's the slow movements that often let orchestral Adams down (for example in Naive and Sentimental Music).
Title: Re: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 26, 2013, 02:45:33 PM
I have the same feeling about it. The outer movements have so much busy passagework in them, perhaps because the material just isn't that memorable.

On the other hand, I do have to say that the ending of the opening movement, where the tempo drops and ideas from the slow movement start appearing, is one of the most magical moments in Adams' work. And the slow movement itself is very fine, and IMO it's the slow movements that often let orchestral Adams down (for example in Naive and Sentimental Music).

Overall, this accords with my own experience: moments of apparent mastery, but hardly a piece which in its entirety impresses with unalloyed excellence.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 26, 2013, 05:00:16 PM
Another favorite work: Naive and Sentimental Music -

Virtually a large-scale symphony, Naïve and Sentimental Music is one of the most powerful and varied of the many orchestral compositions of one of America's best-known living composer. Its arching, soaring melodies seem part of a quest to reconcile the artist's battle between instinct and calculation. Few new works of its magnitude have been so instantly and widely accepted as Naïve and Sentimental. John Adams seems to love dichotomies. Commentators often note the split between his "trickster" works such as Grand Pianola Music and Fearful Symmetries and his introspective works (most especially The Wound Dresser). He composes at a retreat on land located ten miles from the ocean in Northern California, a place where the cool, coastal redwood fog climate abruptly meets the dry, hot inland coastal range.

The title of the work comes from Schiller's essay "Über naïve und sentimentalische Dichtung" (On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry), where "naïve" refers to poetic creation directly from within, without self-analysis or historical reference. The opposite, creation with constant personal second-guessing and conscious reference to the past, Schiller called sentimentalische. In general, the work involves a search for more of Schiller's naïveté. Adams has always been a "sentimental" composer; even his adoption of the naïve-sounding simplicity of his early minimalist style was a result of a decision based on historical awareness that the prevailing post-serial style was breaking up. But he seeks more spontaneity, naïveté, and in a sense portrays that search here. The first movement, sharing the title of the whole work and taking 18 minutes of the 45-minute work, starts with a beautiful naïve theme for flute above plucked harp and guitar. It has popular accents and a gentle, lightly swinging gait. Throughout the course of the movement, it goes through all sorts of emotional and dramatic changes, soaring and roaring. Its tendency to make sudden, wide leaps spontaneously keeps it fresh and often draws it into breathtaking high string lines. This is a highly dramatic movement that builds and builds. As Adams' friend and colleague Ingram Marshall wrote in the Nonesuch Records liner notes, "it's a trip." Adams himself adopted this metaphor in a letter written after he had heard the piece played by three different orchestras: "...a journey (with no known destination; the trip's the thing)...." Adams calls the second movement "Mother of the Man." Earlier, he had made an orchestral arrangement of the Berceuse élégiaque by Ferruccio Busoni, which that composer subtitled "Cradle Song of the Man at the Coffin of His Mother." Adams' music attempts to fill an empty feeling with a mostly successful effort to call music out of the strong emotions of that image. The finale, "Chain to the Rhythm," is in fact an essay in gathering rhythmic force that is ultimately released in an explosive coda. It is built from very small interlocking rhythmic cells and has a large percussion section delicately used for color until the earthquake of the final bars.

[Taken from All Music Guide]
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 26, 2013, 05:16:51 PM
I have the same feeling about it. The outer movements have so much busy passagework in them, perhaps because the material just isn't that memorable.

On the other hand, I do have to say that the ending of the opening movement, where the tempo drops and ideas from the slow movement start appearing, is one of the most magical moments in Adams' work. And the slow movement itself is very fine, and IMO it's the slow movements that often let orchestral Adams down (for example in Naive and Sentimental Music).

I think the Violin Concerto is a masterpiece. There's not a weak moment in the whole work IMHO. Now, Fearful Symmetries, on the other hand, I despise. Someone needs to put that work out of it's misery and quick.

Every major composer is going to have works we don't like. That's just the way it is. You can't have a home run every time the composer steps up to bat, but I certainly can understand your sentiments regarding the Violin Concerto. It's not an 'easy' work to appreciate and it took me several years to fully grasp it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 27, 2013, 06:47:50 AM
Harmonium -

Composed in 1981, at the point when minimalism was moving toward audience-pleasing ethereality and away from the audience-alienating repetition of the 1960s and 1970s that gave birth to the genre, John Adams' Harmonium was, in fact, already looking ahead to the "post-minimalist" style that Adams would forge with works such as The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) and the Violin Concerto (1993). With its alternating passages of throbbing minimal textures and dramatic lyricism, Harmonium hinted at a more exploratory vein. The piece sets three texts, one by the English poet John Donne and the other two by Emily Dickinson. The Donne piece, entitled Negative Love or The Nothing, is set to music that begins with simple repeated tones sung on single syllables. As the tones expand into chords, the syllables expand into the opening lines of the text. The polyrhythmic juxtapositions of twos against threes and threes against fours, stock elements of the minimalist palette, suddenly become even more obtuse, in order, paradoxically, to emphasize the declamation of the text. This situation creates a free space in which varied rhythms add new drama to the blocks of harmony and webs of accompaniment.

The middle movement sets Dickinson's pensive Because I Could Not Stop for Death. The suspension of time implicit in the poem is portrayed musically by long-suspended harmonies in the strings. The impetus, then, is no longer the rhythm of the text so much as the mood conjured up by the poetic discourse, a mood expressed by blocks of harmonies and slight dissonances suspended long enough to succumb to any resolution. As the poem progresses, so do the rhythmic tension and activity, carrying the work boldly and without pause into the final movement. The sensuality that -- except in the title -- is largely implicit in the third text, Wild Nights, is made explicit in the music. A sudden metric shift marks the movement's beginning, which brims with the sort of grandiose melodic-rhythmic complexes for which Adams is best known. As in the first movement, the declamation of the text lends rhythmic variety to the lines sung above the accompanying web. The exclamatory passages in the text provide opportunity for corresponding orchestral emphases and bursts of instrumental color. The first two stanzas of the poem, full of anticipation and Romantic anxiety, give way to more tranquilly sensual imagery: "Rowing in Eden -- Ah, the sea!" Rhythmic energy is reined in, and undulating incantations of "rowing" flow underneath the remainder of the text, drawing it to an idyllic close.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 27, 2013, 07:42:36 AM
Another favorite work: Naive and Sentimental Music -


This and Harmonielehre are probably my favorite works by Adams. Yes, I know, one partially recaps the other, but in an interesting and diverse way.

Harmonium -

Am planning to hear it this summer at the Grant Park festival, where it's coupled with The Rite of Spring.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 27, 2013, 05:07:56 PM
This and Harmonielehre are probably my favorite works by Adams. Yes, I know, one partially recaps the other, but in an interesting and diverse way.

Am planning to hear it this summer at the Grant Park festival, where it's coupled with The Rite of Spring.

You're a lucky man! I'd love to see Harmonium live. Maybe one day...

Yes, Naive & Sentimental Music is a fine work, but there are many Adams works which I have come to appreciate after many listens. It took a year or so to finally appreciate Naive & Sentimental Music. My initial reaction was "Somebody put this work out of it's misery." :) Patience reaps multiple rewards.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on April 27, 2013, 08:18:51 PM
My initial reaction was "Somebody put this work out of it's misery."

I've been in that stage for a while for Naive and Sentimental music. I've come around to Harmonielehre, a work that never really got to me, and I enjoy it now. I would hesitate to call it a real masterpiece though. The second movement is great stuff, though.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 27, 2013, 08:35:34 PM
I've been in that stage for a while for Naive and Sentimental music. I've come around to Harmonielehre, a work that never really got to me, and I enjoy it now. I would hesitate to call it a real masterpiece though. The second movement is great stuff, though.

I feel that Harmonielehre is a masterpiece and I knew you were lukewarm about the work but it's good that you're enjoying it now. I think it's one of those works that pushed the genre of Minimalism into it's final overdrive. I feel it was just as important a work as Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. If I could only take one Adams work to the desert island it would be Harmonielehre. So many riches to be found.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on April 28, 2013, 02:28:03 AM
Harmonielehre and Grand Pianola Music are his best. I especially love the diverse orchestration of Pianola, winds, percussion, female singers and 2 pianos. My choices for these two works...

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ubXvxtVwL._SY300__.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YEWWTU98L._SY300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on April 28, 2013, 06:51:07 AM
Harmonielehre and Grand Pianola Music are his best. I especially love the diverse orchestration of Pianola, winds, percussion, female singers and 2 pianos. My choices for these two works...


I like that recording of Pianola mainly for the Chamber Symphony. I haven't really warmed to Pianola yet. I agree about Harmonielehre though.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on September 29, 2013, 05:27:13 AM
Reading around a few places, it seems that Nonesuch will release next year a recording containing City Noir and the new Saxophone Concerto. Timothy McAllister is the soloist in the concerto; both pieces are performed by the St Louis Symphony. The conductor's not mentioned, but I assume it's likely to be David Robertson.

http://www.nonesuch.com/journal/john-adams-saxophone-concerto-us-premiere-baltimore-symphony-orchestra-ecstatic-ride-2013-09-23
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 27, 2013, 08:24:37 PM
Harmonielehre and Grand Pianola Music are his best.

I would say Adams has composed many more great works besides these two works, Greg. As great as they are, they aren't the only Adams works worthy of my time. There are so many other gems in his oeuvre that deserve attention, too.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 27, 2013, 08:27:02 PM
Reading around a few places, it seems that Nonesuch will release next year a recording containing City Noir and the new Saxophone Concerto. Timothy McAllister is the soloist in the concerto; both pieces are performed by the St Louis Symphony. The conductor's not mentioned, but I assume it's likely to be David Robertson.

http://www.nonesuch.com/journal/john-adams-saxophone-concerto-us-premiere-baltimore-symphony-orchestra-ecstatic-ride-2013-09-23

I didn't care for City Noir, but Dudamel's performance in his inaugural concert with the LA Philharmonic didn't exactly impress me either. Will be curious to hear the Saxophone Concerto, though.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 27, 2013, 08:33:53 PM
Will be curious to hear the Saxophone Concerto, though.

Me too. We need more saxophone concertos! I have a personal interest in this, as my stepson is studying classical saxophone.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 27, 2013, 08:39:38 PM
Me too. We need more saxophone concertos! I have a personal interest in this, as my stepson is studying classical saxophone.

Cool, Velimir. Hopefully, Nonesuch has something up their sleeve and they do according to Edward's post. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on October 28, 2013, 05:41:50 AM
The saxophone concerto is pretty good. It isn't as bombastic or orchestrally colorful as I had hoped for (I was expecting something like the violin concerto), for it uses smaller forces and has no percussion. However, it still really shows off what Tim McAllister (the soloist it was dedicated to) is capable of. It really has some great "wow" moments of virtuosity. I think the St. Louis Symphony will be recording it soon.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on November 14, 2013, 05:36:44 PM
A very negative review of the new Chandos Harmonielehre from Andrew Clements today:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/14/adams-harmonielehre-doctor-atomic-symphony-review
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Brian on January 22, 2014, 09:01:04 AM
Adams' new violin concerto, "Scheherazade 2", will be premiered next season by Leila Josefowicz and the New York Philharmonic.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2014, 08:42:50 PM
Adams' new violin concerto, "Scheherazade 2", will be premiered next season by Leila Josefowicz and the New York Philharmonic.

What a cool dumb name for a VC.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on January 22, 2014, 09:44:52 PM
What a cool dumb name for a VC.

Agreed. It's worse than "Son of Chamber Symphony". I like things like good ol' "String Quartet" and other absolute, mundane names. I'll have to tune in for the NYPhil broadcast next year and peruse the score when it appears online.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 23, 2014, 07:51:39 AM
A very negative review of the new Chandos Harmonielehre from Andrew Clements today:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/14/adams-harmonielehre-doctor-atomic-symphony-review

In my mind, there are three great Harmonielehre performances: MTT/SFSO, Rattle/CBSO, and Waart/SFSO. This new recording on Chandos hasn't interested me in the slightest. Maybe a lot of it has to do with the fact that from what I've heard of Oundjian hasn't impressed me whatsoever. Not only that but there are many other works in Adams' oeuvre that deserve some attention in terms of recordings like Harmonium for example, which only has two recordings if I'm not mistaken (Waart/ECM and Adams/Nonesuch).
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: EigenUser on March 23, 2014, 08:14:27 AM
In my mind, there are three great Harmonielehre performances: MTT/SFSO, Rattle/CBSO, and Waart/SFSO. This new recording on Chandos hasn't interested me in the slightest. Maybe a lot of it has to do with the fact that from what I've heard of Oundjian hasn't impressed me whatsoever. Not only that but there are many other works in Adams' oeuvre that deserve some attention in terms of recordings like Harmonium for example, which only has two recordings if I'm not mistaken (Waart/ECM and Adams/Nonesuch).

I like Adams, though he isn't a favorite of mine. As for lesser-known works of his, are you familiar with his hilarious clarinet concerto "Gnarly Buttons"? Somehow, I expect that you wouldn't like it, though I obviously have no idea. I played this in my university's orchestra a while back. It was a b**** to piece together as an ensemble, but great fun, nonetheless. Seriously though, Adams couldn't just write a simple quarter note. He just had to be a little off-beat (pun intended) and write things like a 32nd rest (on beat one of a measure) followed by a dotted sixteenth.

Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 23, 2014, 08:19:43 AM
I like Adams, though he isn't a favorite of mine. As for lesser-known works of his, are you familiar with his hilarious clarinet concerto "Gnarly Buttons"? Somehow, I expect that you wouldn't like it, though I obviously have no idea. I played this in my university's orchestra a while back. It was a b**** to piece together as an ensemble, but great fun, nonetheless. Seriously though, Adams couldn't just write a simple quarter note. He just had to be a little off-beat (pun intended) and write things like a 32nd rest (on beat one of a measure) followed by a dotted sixteenth.



Yep, Gnarly Buttons is great fun indeed. I like that work a lot. I've heard Adams can be difficult to perform, but many of the musicians I've read about in either interviews or articles said his music is fun to perform.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on March 23, 2014, 08:53:04 AM
In my mind, there are three great Harmonielehre performances: MTT/SFSO, Rattle/CBSO, and Waart/SFSO. This new recording on Chandos hasn't interested me in the slightest. Maybe a lot of it has to do with the fact that from what I've heard of Oundjian hasn't impressed me whatsoever. Not only that but there are many other works in Adams' oeuvre that deserve some attention in terms of recordings like Harmonium for example, which only has two recordings if I'm not mistaken (Waart/ECM and Adams/Nonesuch).
I was surprised when Oundjian got the Toronto Symphony. Because he's Canadian of course. But we've had Ozawa, Andrew Davis, Ancerl, Saraste as music directors.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 23, 2014, 11:23:32 AM
I was surprised when Oundjian got the Toronto Symphony. Because he's Canadian of course. But we've had Ozawa, Andrew Davis, Ancerl, Saraste as music directors.

A question: it says you live in the United States on your profile but you used to live in Canada?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on March 23, 2014, 12:17:58 PM
A question: it says you live in the United States on your profile but you used to live in Canada?
Yes. I am Canadian but live down here. In Michigan now. Formerly Kentucky, and a bit in Georgia and Ohio. Travel to Toronto regularly.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 23, 2014, 01:10:51 PM
Yes. I am Canadian but live down here. In Michigan now. Formerly Kentucky, and a bit in Georgia and Ohio. Travel to Toronto regularly.

Without getting into a whole discussion with you about the differences between the two countries (and derailing this thread even further), I love Canada and hope to visit and perhaps even live there one day.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 24, 2014, 04:52:13 AM
I need to revisit Naïve and Sentimental Music (no idea, now, of why it "didn't do it for me" back when I initially heard it);  and it is probably time I tried El Dorado.

I like Adams, though he isn't a favorite of mine.

Ditto.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on March 25, 2014, 05:41:13 PM
I need to revisit Naïve and Sentimental Music (no idea, now, of why it "didn't do it for me" back when I initially heard it);  and it is probably time I tried El Dorado.

Ditto.
Perhaps the electric guitar part in the slow movement? I find it very unfortunate.

I need to revisit El Dorado as well. It's an interesting inversion of conventional dramatic direction.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 19, 2014, 09:19:27 AM
Perhaps the electric guitar part in the slow movement? I find it very unfortunate.

I remember it from that first outing rather harshly.  I shouldn't say I like it now, but I think I've compensated by "listening around it."  Will give it another go soon.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 19, 2014, 10:46:14 AM
Perhaps the electric guitar part in the slow movement? I find it very unfortunate.

I need to revisit El Dorado as well. It's an interesting inversion of conventional dramatic direction.

Viz. the Naïve and Sentimental Music . . . I don't say I could make any case for anyone else, but I find that I don't mind the guitar in the second movement.  Perhaps . . . well, I don't remember losing patience with the first movement, or certainly do not remember losing patience with it so early.  It starts off well enough . . . I'll stop there.

As a result, the open of the second movement comes almost as mere relief.  It is better than that, it is good writing (though, as with the first movement, I could hear someone saying it starts off well enough . . . .)

I've now read the liner notes.  The writer actually used Adamsian.

More than once.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: EigenUser on June 19, 2014, 11:17:23 AM
Viz. the Naïve and Sentimental Music . . . I don't say I could make any case for anyone else, but I find that I don't mind the guitar in the second movement.  Perhaps . . . well, I don't remember losing patience with the first movement, or certainly do not remember losing patience with it so early.  It starts off well enough . . . I'll stop there.

As a result, the open of the second movement comes almost as mere relief.  It is better than that, it is good writing (though, as with the first movement, I could hear someone saying it starts off well enough . . . .)

I've now read the liner notes.  The writer actually used Adamsian.

More than once.
Adamsian?  ??? Really??

You're a clarinettist. Have you heard GB? What do you think of it?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: snyprrr on July 07, 2014, 07:08:46 AM
A very negative review of the new Chandos Harmonielehre from Andrew Clements today:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/14/adams-harmonielehre-doctor-atomic-symphony-review

So, how bout that Nonesuch 'Noir' and sax Concerto?  I have heartily resisted JCA this long; will this new release win hearts and minds?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 25, 2014, 02:56:18 AM
Some coins do not have two sides. And what was done to Leon Klinghoffer has no other side.

Letters to the Editor of The New York Times

Quote
The Opinion Pages | LETTERS

‘Klinghoffer’: An Opera and a Protest
SEPT. 22, 2014

To the Editor:

Re “The Met Opera Stands Firm” (editorial, Sept. 20):

In joining protesters of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” I echo the silenced voice of our son, Daniel Pearl, and the silenced voices of other victims of terror who were murdered, maimed or left heartbroken by the new menace of our generation, a savagery that the Met has decided to elevate to a normative, two-sided status worthy of artistic expression.

We are told that the composer tried to understand the hijackers, their motivations and their grievances.

I submit that there has never been a crime in human history lacking grievance and motivation. The 9/11 lunatics had profound motivations, and the murderers of our son, Daniel Pearl, had very compelling “grievances.”

In the last few weeks we have seen with our own eyes that Hamas and the Islamic State have grievances, too. There is nothing more enticing to a would-be terrorist than the prospect of broadcasting his “grievances” in Lincoln Center, the icon of American culture.

Yet civilized society has learned to protect itself by codifying right from wrong, separating the holy from the profane, distinguishing that which deserves the sound of orchestras from that which commands our unconditional revulsion. The Met has trashed this distinction and thus betrayed its contract with society.

I submit that choreographing a “nuanced” operatic drama around criminal pathology is not an artistic prerogative, but a blatant betrayal of public trust. We do not stage “nuanced” operas for rapists and child molesters, and we do not compose symphonies for penetrating the minds of ISIS executioners.

Some coins do not have two sides. And what was done to Leon Klinghoffer has no other side.

What we are seeing in New York is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

This opera is not about the mentality of deranged terrorists, but about the judgment of our arts directors. The Metropolitan Opera has squandered humanity’s greatest treasure: our moral compass, our sense of right and wrong, and, most sadly, our reverence for music as a noble expression of the human spirit.

We might someday be able to forgive the Met for decriminalizing brutality, but we will never forgive it for poisoning our music, for turning our best violins and our iconic concert halls into megaphones for excusing evil.

JUDEA PEARL
President, Daniel Pearl Foundation
Los Angeles, Sept. 21, 2014


A version of this letter was read at the protest at the Met on Monday.

To the Editor:

You say the Metropolitan Opera’s presentation of “The Death of Klinghoffer” is “moving and nuanced” and an assertion of “artistic freedom.” The Met’s right to present this opera is not in question, but its wisdom in doing so should be.

Even the title is misleading. Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly, wheelchair-bound American, did not simply die. In 1985, he was murdered, as a Jew, by Palestinian terrorists while on a cruise ship. Moreover, the composer, John Adams, was blunt in revealing his own outlook when he complained in his autobiography, “Hallelujah Junction,” that “Israeli behavior on the world stage is off-limits to criticism.” But Israel was not even directly linked to the actual story as it unfolded.

Moreover, in a world rife with gruesome terrorism — from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State, from Hamas to Boko Haram — what exactly is it about the outlook of anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Semitic murderers that evokes artistic notions worthy of one of the world’s most prestigious stages?

In this spirit, should we expect Mr. Adams to prepare sequels for the Met, including “The Deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff” (not, alas, “The Beheadings”)? The possibilities for giving “voice to all sides” is endless, if, that is, one is prepared to abandon any semblance of decency.

DAVID HARRIS
Executive Director
American Jewish Committee
New York, Sept. 20, 2014
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 25, 2014, 02:57:44 AM
I want to think the best of Mr Adams.  But in this project, he was either disingenuous, or profoundly tone-deaf.

I want to think the best of the Met, but playing the "this is a work of geeenius" card is a moral evasion.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on September 25, 2014, 09:47:10 AM
I want to think the best of Mr Adams.  But in this project, he was either disingenuous, or profoundly tone-deaf.

I bought this opera when it was first released on vinyl, the first day it was available. My reaction was pretty close to David Harris's, but with more disappointment and rancor. Nothing I have seen since then has changed my opinion of Adams as a person, except possibly to confirm or lower it.

The notion that criticism of Israel is "off-limits" is more than disingenuous. Just last year at the UN there were 4 resolutions total against every nation except Israel. There were 23 against Israel.

IMO Karl, thinking the best of Adams is wasted effort.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on September 26, 2014, 02:22:58 PM
I want to think the best of Mr Adams.  But in this project, he was either disingenuous, or profoundly tone-deaf.

I don't know this opera, but my impression from it and other of Adams' vocal works is that politically, he's a standard-issue Bay Area lefty. That may be good or bad depending on your POV; but such people tend to be predictable and boring when they express themselves via political art.

Luckily, this doesn't seem to have impinged on his orchestral works.



Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on September 27, 2014, 05:32:44 AM
I don't know this opera, but my impression from it and other of Adams' vocal works is that politically, he's a standard-issue Bay Area lefty. That may be good or bad depending on your POV; but such people tend to be predictable and boring when they express themselves via political art.

Luckily, this doesn't seem to have impinged on his orchestral works.
There was some CD where he writes on the inlay of his pride that the first vote he cast was for Gene McCarthy in the '68 Democratic primaries. He also criticized Carter (Elliott, not Jimmy) for only writing vocal music to words by white poets. So yes, a standard-issue Bay Area lefty sounds about right.

I haven't ever heard the full Klinghoffer, but what I've read and heard doesn't incline me to the view that he was being disingenuous in the work. One example: the Chorus of the Exiled Palestinians and the Chorus of the Exiled Jews in the recording I have are the same length, down to the second. I'm sure this was intended as some kind of statement about historical injustices--whether it comes across as such is another matter.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 27, 2014, 05:39:41 AM
This is generally the problem I have with Adams when it comes to his operas. They're too political and declamatory. I like some of his orchestral music, but he's certainly started losing a lot steam the last couple of years. I think he's pretty much a parody of himself at this point.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on September 27, 2014, 05:44:17 AM
This is generally the problem I have with Adams when it comes to his operas. They're too political and declamatory. I like some of his orchestral music, but he's certainly started losing a lot steam the last couple of years. I think he's pretty much a parody of himself at this point.
+1

Although Nixon is my favorite Adams, but purely for the music. I ignore the alleged drama entirely.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on September 27, 2014, 05:50:30 AM
I think Adams is aware that to a certain extent he has written himself into a corner. That's why he's produced pieces like Absolute Jest, where he's trying to do something different (though this particular work is to my mind an unremitted disaster from start to finish, it's to his credit that he did attempt something different).

I think the best music he's written in the last 10 years is contained in Doctor Atomic, where he's allowed his post-Bergian side to express itself and shown that he can write lyrical, highly chromatic music. It's perhaps a shame that he excised the second movement from the Doctor Atomic Symphony: my view is that this decision considerably truncated the dramatic arc of the work, making the finale far less impactful, not to mention removing some fine music that is otherwise unlikely to be heard in concert.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 27, 2014, 05:39:42 PM
I think Adams is aware that to a certain extent he has written himself into a corner. That's why he's produced pieces like Absolute Jest, where he's trying to do something different (though this particular work is to my mind an unremitted disaster from start to finish, it's to his credit that he did attempt something different).

I think the best music he's written in the last 10 years is contained in Doctor Atomic, where he's allowed his post-Bergian side to express itself and shown that he can write lyrical, highly chromatic music. It's perhaps a shame that he excised the second movement from the Doctor Atomic Symphony: my view is that this decision considerably truncated the dramatic arc of the work, making the finale far less impactful, not to mention removing some fine music that is otherwise unlikely to be heard in concert.

Overall, your post aligns with what has gelled as my Adams thesis: a composer capable of genuinely good work, but upon whom you cannot rely to make the most artistic decision.

Doctor Atomic . . . I heard it at Symphony Hall, the Symphony. I fear it struck me only as B.A.U. Adams.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on September 28, 2014, 06:26:31 AM
Overall, your post aligns with what has gelled as my Adams thesis: a composer capable of genuinely good work, but upon whom you cannot rely to make the most artistic decision.

Doctor Atomic . . . I heard it at Symphony Hall, the Symphony. I fear it struck me only as B.A.U. Adams.
BAU?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 28, 2014, 07:39:41 AM
Business As Usual
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on September 28, 2014, 07:56:27 AM
Business As Usual
Ah. Yeah, that sums it up pretty well.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 28, 2014, 08:07:50 AM
There's nothing worse than BAU Adams...lol. :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 28, 2014, 08:11:10 AM
A professor whom I assisted while doing my Master's at UVa had a sign on his office door: "Sometimes I just riff."
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 28, 2014, 09:25:14 AM
A professor whom I assisted while doing my Master's at UVa had a sign on his office door: "Sometimes I just riff."

 :P
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 28, 2014, 03:46:43 AM
. . . Not only that but there are many other works in Adams' oeuvre that deserve some attention in terms of recordings like Harmonium for example, which only has two recordings if I'm not mistaken (Waart/ECM and Adams/Nonesuch).

I discovered the disc obliquely (I was looking for the Oliver Knussen/ASKO Ensemble recording of Louis Andriessen's De snelheid) . . . but this also has Harmonium (BBC National Orchestra & Chorus Of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Grant Llewellyn):
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on October 28, 2014, 04:50:07 AM
I have that disc... sitting in a box somewhere.

Anyway, for those who are interested, the original, four-movement Doctor Atomic Symphony, with the LSO conducted by the composer:

https://mega.co.nz/#!DIoAkb7b!OIpGvglMiZZ2DSb7hHgs3N83kC2dNhTjEOmHzIoxWl8
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 28, 2014, 04:54:50 AM
Thanks!  I shall look into that when I am home this evening.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 28, 2014, 06:30:38 AM
I discovered the disc obliquely (I was looking for the Oliver Knussen/ASKO Ensemble recording of Louis Andriessen's De snelheid) . . . but this also has Harmonium (BBC National Orchestra & Chorus Of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Grant Llewellyn):

Very nice, Karl. I would love to hear your opinion of the performance once you listen to it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: lescamil on October 28, 2014, 06:34:39 AM
I bought that disk years ago, and only for a performance of Louis Andriessen's De Snelheid, which is supposedly the piece John Adams was thinking of when he wrote Short Ride in a Fast Machine. It would make sense, given that they both have an incessant woodblock throughout the piece, and speed is a key element (de snelheid translates to "velocity"). The performance on this CD is a bit sloppy, but I've spoken with Andriessen before, and he says that this performance is just how he likes it. He says he prefers a rougher, more visceral performance of his works. Buuuuut, this thread isn't about Andriessen...
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 31, 2014, 06:15:49 PM
I bought that disk years ago, and only for a performance of Louis Andriessen's De Snelheid, which is supposedly the piece John Adams was thinking of when he wrote Short Ride in a Fast Machine. It would make sense, given that they both have an incessant woodblock throughout the piece, and speed is a key element (de snelheid translates to "velocity"). The performance on this CD is a bit sloppy, but I've spoken with Andriessen before, and he says that this performance is just how he likes it. He says he prefers a rougher, more visceral performance of his works. Buuuuut, this thread isn't about Andriessen...

I must revisit De snelheid, but I recall thinking much better of it than of A Short Ride.

Edward, thanks again: will give that a listen this weekend.

Separately, I find (much to my surprise) that I have Klinghoffer, complete. I've not listened to it complete, just to the odd chorus. Someday I shall listen to it; but not this season.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on October 31, 2014, 07:10:13 PM
I must revisit De snelheid, but I recall thinking much better of it than of A Short Ride.

Edward, thanks again: will give that a listen this weekend.

Separately, I find (much to my surprise) that I have Klinghoffer, complete. I've not listened to it complete, just to the odd chorus. Someday I shall listen to it; but not this season.

Save for a rainy day; sometimes they need ruining too.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 01, 2014, 05:23:24 AM
Nice!

I do foresee a long stretch where I simply have things I'd rather do than devote a couple of hours to static Kling.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: jlaurson on December 04, 2014, 10:42:13 AM
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GS9pLMtbk04/VIB7VKbHqeI/AAAAAAAAHvs/QnxWx_SUGxc/s1600/Forbes_SOUND_ADVICE_laurson_2_600.jpg)

On Forbes: The Met's Klinghoffer Brouhaha
 (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2014/12/on-forbes-mets-klinghoffer-brouhaha.html)

direct link (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenslaurson/2014/12/01/the-mets-klinghoffer-brouhaha/)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 05, 2014, 01:32:26 PM
This week I've been re-visiting El Niño, and it was ultimately a worthwhile endeavor.  My opinion, my ears, but the piece still fits my "Adams model" of [some genuinely excellent work] mitigated by both [stretches of BAU (business as usual)] and [But does it seal the deal as an Overall Composition?]

So, what was good about the process was, that the long stretches, entire numbers, which (basically) soon grow uninteresting to me (and never quite recover), I endured, and found the odd number in the whole which is Adams at his best (it happens too seldom, but it does happen).  A fellow composer really likes this piece, and now I can have a reasonably informed conversation with him about it.

I may not come back to this for another two or three years;  and there is still the question Were even the best bits worth the tooth-pulling?  Not sure that there was actual redemption.  But I did discover some excellent Adams hidden away amid all the dross.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 26, 2015, 12:33:04 PM
Is Harmonielehre becoming standard rep? Grant Park and the CSO are both doing it this year. Respectively, in August (Kalmar) and in October (Salonen). I can't decide whether to go to one or the other or both!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 26, 2015, 12:47:57 PM
Is Harmonielehre becoming standard rep? Grant Park and the CSO are both doing it this year. Respectively, in August (Kalmar) and in October (Salonen). I can't decide whether to go to one or the other or both!

I would go see Salonen in a heartbeat!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 26, 2015, 12:51:05 PM
I would go see Salonen in a heartbeat!

I will probably do that myself, also because I've long wanted to hear the CSO rip into this. But Grant Park/Kalmar has the advantage of being free, in a relaxed outdoors atmosphere. Maybe I'll go to both, since it will likely be 2 very different experiences.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on January 26, 2015, 06:34:53 PM
Is Harmonielehre becoming standard rep? Grant Park and the CSO are both doing it this year. Respectively, in August (Kalmar) and in October (Salonen). I can't decide whether to go to one or the other or both!
If it is, it's a good choice. I do have some minor reservations about the slow movement, but I don't think Adams has done anything better.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 27, 2015, 07:01:05 AM
If it is, it's a good choice. I do have some minor reservations about the slow movement, but I don't think Adams has done anything better.

Entirely fair evaluation.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on January 27, 2015, 08:48:38 AM
I would go see Salonen in a heartbeat!

Ha, I made a mistake. It's actually de Waart conducting, which is not surprising, as he's made a specialty of this piece. Salonen is conducting the Lutoslawski 3rd, which I am also definitely going to.  :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 27, 2015, 08:56:37 AM
Well, I think better yet of de Waart than of Salonen (not that anyone asked ....)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: North Star on January 27, 2015, 09:11:08 AM
Well, I think better yet of de Waart than of Salonen (not that anyone asked ....)
I suppse the Edo period means different things in Minnesota and Japan.  8)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on January 27, 2015, 01:11:35 PM
Ha, I made a mistake. It's actually de Waart conducting, which is not surprising, as he's made a specialty of this piece. Salonen is conducting the Lutoslawski 3rd, which I am also definitely going to.  :)

Okay, yeah, de Waart is great in Adams. That should be a great performance since, as Karl pointed out, he's made several recording of Adams' music.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: GioCar on October 05, 2016, 11:46:30 PM
This morning I listened to Sheherazade.2



hmm... I'm not convinced at all.
The second part (mov. III and IV) went better than the first two movements, but overall I had my thoughts confirmed. The Adams I like most is the earlier one, till let's say the Naive and Sentimental Music.
I always feel as if there is a lack of inspiration starting from his turn-of-the-century works, with very few exceptions (The Dharma at Big Sur and My Father Knew Charles Ives are the only two works I really like from that period).
I've read that Sheherazade.2 (a sort of Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Orchestra)  has received a lot af praise, but in my preferences list it is well below The Dharma.
Has anyone else heard it?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on October 06, 2016, 12:06:22 AM
This morning I listened to Sheherazade.2



hmm... I'm not convinced at all.
The second part (mov. III and IV) went better than the first two movements, but overall I had my thoughts confirmed. The Adams I like most is the earlier one, till let's say the Naive and Sentimental Music.
I always feel as if there is a lack of inspiration starting from his turn-of-the-century works, with very few exceptions (The Dharma at Big Sur and My Father Knew Charles Ives are the only two works I really like from that period).
I've read that Sheherazade.2 (a sort of Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Orchestra)  has received a lot af praise, but in my preferences list it is well below The Dharma.
Has anyone else heard it?

I suppose I will at some point, but I am put off by the attempt to bully me into praising it. For what else is all this bullshit about it being "about women standing up to patriarchy in the modern world." How can you boo that you fascist misogynist pig?
My symphony is about the suffering of battered women, and you don't like it?? What's your agenda?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: GioCar on October 06, 2016, 12:13:13 AM
^^^

???
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: amw on October 06, 2016, 12:49:14 AM
I suppose I will at some point, but I am put off by the attempt to bully me into praising it. For what else is all this bullshit about it being "about women standing up to patriarchy in the modern world." How can you boo that you fascist misogynist pig?
My symphony is about the suffering of battered women, and you don't like it?? What's your agenda?

Lmao @ that coming from Adams, too, who has somewhat of a, uh, reputation among female musicians for getting a bit too "hands-on".

Liberal white dudebros pretending to be The Most Progressive is something that increasingly annoys me. Oh look! You have a Black Lives Matter sticker on your car! You posted an article about feminism on your facebook wall!! You describe yourself as "cisgendered" and "body positive" on your OKCupid profile!!! Yes of course I'll fuck you, I looooove white knights~

(Sorry. That was a rant. I study at a university in a moderately large, socially liberal city. I'll get over it soon.)

While I'm here, can anyone recommend a recording of Adams's original Violin Concerto (the one from 1995)? I did hear it once some years ago and didn't find it convincing as a work, but stuff I've read recently has made me want to hear it again just out of curiosity.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 06, 2016, 03:41:42 AM
I suppose I will at some point, but I am put off by the attempt to bully me into praising it. For what else is all this bullshit about it being "about women standing up to patriarchy in the modern world." How can you boo that you fascist misogynist pig?
My symphony is about the suffering of battered women, and you don't like it?? What's your agenda?

All the money for new music is for work that can be used for activism! (<— hyperbole)

I suppse the Edo period means different things in Minnesota and Japan.  8)

Karlo, I am sorry that I missed your jest, back when you made it!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 06, 2016, 05:43:30 AM
This morning I listened to Sheherazade.2



hmm... I'm not convinced at all.
The second part (mov. III and IV) went better than the first two movements, but overall I had my thoughts confirmed. The Adams I like most is the earlier one, till let's say the Naive and Sentimental Music.
I always feel as if there is a lack of inspiration starting from his turn-of-the-century works, with very few exceptions (The Dharma at Big Sur and My Father Knew Charles Ives are the only two works I really like from that period).
I've read that Sheherazade.2 (a sort of Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Orchestra)  has received a lot af praise, but in my preferences list it is well below The Dharma.
Has anyone else heard it?

Doesn't surprise me that someone doesn't like the work. I haven't heard it myself, so I'll reserve judgement of course, but I think Adams is one of the most thoroughly disappointing composers working today who seems to get heaps of praise put upon him for no other reason but to somehow make it seem that contemporary classical music should be listener-friendly and accessible to an audience without actually listening to the work. I may be making a broad assumption here, but it seems to me the media loves Adams more than the actual listeners do.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on October 06, 2016, 06:12:37 AM
I may be making a broad assumption here, but it seems to me the media loves Adams more than the actual listeners do.

More than this former fan, disappointed by his past 20 years of stuff, that's for sure. I think part of the reason the media loves him is precisely this "I do it for the victims" bullshit.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 06, 2016, 06:20:07 AM
More than this former fan, disappointed by his past 20 years of stuff, that's for sure. I think part of the reason the media loves him is precisely this "I do it for the victims" bullshit.

Harmonium, Shaker Loops, and Harmonielehre are the best things Adams has done IMHO. You can keep the rest.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 06, 2016, 06:25:13 AM
More than this former fan, disappointed by his past 20 years of stuff, that's for sure. I think part of the reason the media loves him is precisely this "I do it for the victims" bullshit.

It's a damned shrewd move.  No worrying about the vagaries of inspiration;  open up a newspaper!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 06, 2016, 06:34:35 AM
It's a damned shrewd move.  No worrying about the vagaries of inspiration;  open up a newspaper!

Spot-on! That does feel like where Adams gets his ideas from. Next thing you know, he'll be writing about the Kardashians or the Hiltons of the world. :-\
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 06, 2016, 07:04:35 AM
The Adams I like most is the earlier one, till let's say the Naive and Sentimental Music.
I always feel as if there is a lack of inspiration starting from his turn-of-the-century works, with very few exceptions (

Me too. I haven't heard much of the post-2000 stuff, but judging from most responses I read, I shouldn't bother.

The in-yer-face social liberalism and "relevance" is the sort of thing you put in the foreground when your inspiration has faded.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on October 06, 2016, 07:47:35 AM
File under lost Rockefeller Foundation grant opportunities:

Out in the Sun -- Instead of In the Shade of Intersectional Othering and Privilege (Dedicated to the Children)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 06, 2016, 07:59:12 AM
File under lost Rockefeller Foundation grant opportunities:

Out in the Sun -- Instead of In the Shade of Intersectional Othering and Privilege (Dedicated to the Children)

At some point, Adams will be accused of "cultural appropriation," and we'll all have a good laugh.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Reckoner on October 06, 2016, 10:02:48 AM
I haven't heard much of the post-2000 stuff, but judging from most responses I read, I shouldn't bother.

You should bother.  :)

Dharma is one of the supreme works of recent times - novel, sophisticated and often quite beautiful.

Absolute Jest has the most amazing first movement, expertly intertwining his own trademark rhythmic / melodic mayhem with Beethoven soundbites in a wholly satisfying way.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 06, 2016, 10:11:19 AM
You should bother.  :)

Dharma is one of the supreme works of recent times - novel, sophisticated and often quite beautiful.

Too late, LOL. I had the CD of Dharma but got rid of it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Reckoner on October 06, 2016, 11:12:43 AM
Too late, LOL. I had the CD of Dharma but got rid of it.

Then you need to buy another copy.  ;D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: nathanb on October 06, 2016, 12:45:50 PM
The in-yer-face social liberalism and "relevance" is the sort of thing you put in the foreground when your inspiration has faded.

You speak important truths, my friend. I never thought J. C. was relatively high on the list of contemporary talents to begin with, but he was high enough to fall quite a bit, I guess.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 06, 2016, 01:18:55 PM
There's having talent.  And there's having a name.  The correlation is imperfect.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 06, 2016, 01:35:13 PM
There's having talent.  And there's having a name.  The correlation is imperfect.

There's also having talent, using it to make a name, and then coasting on the name your talent made, regardless of whether you still have it or not.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: not edward on October 06, 2016, 01:54:11 PM
One of the funnier things Adams has done is the mysterious transition from juvenile mockery of Elliott Carter to (not unequivocally, which is absolutely fine) praising him and conducting the Variations for Orchestra almost as soon as Carter died and (perhaps) a vacancy for the "elder statesman" role arose.

Every now and then I hear something post-1990 from Adams that reminds me he should be a significant figure. But IMO his quality control has been on autopilot for a while now (I actually liked the original version of the Doctor Atomic symphony, but then he cut out most of the interesting material from it).
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 06, 2016, 02:04:00 PM
One of the funnier things Adams has done is the mysterious transition from juvenile mockery of Elliott Carter to (not unequivocally, which is absolutely fine) praising him and conducting the Variations for Orchestra almost as soon as Carter died and (perhaps) a vacancy for the "elder statesman" role arose.

Maybe this is just something composers do, out of a natural sense of competition. Consider all the composers that Boulez trashed in his earlier career, and then would up conducting later on.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Reckoner on October 06, 2016, 02:13:04 PM
Is there an aversion to Adams because he's still associated with minimalism?

That stuff is so forty years ago.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 06, 2016, 02:27:24 PM
Is there an aversion to Adams because he's still associated with minimalism?

Not on my part. The stuff of his that I like dates from the period when he was moving away from minimalism, but still sometimes used minimalist procedures (basically, about 1980-2000).
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Ken B on October 06, 2016, 02:50:05 PM
Is there an aversion to Adams because he's still associated with minimalism?

That stuff is so forty years ago.
Au contraire, as I think is obvious from all the comments about liking only his early stuff.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 06, 2016, 02:50:49 PM
Is there an aversion to Adams because he's still associated with minimalism?

That stuff is so forty years ago.

No, my quarrel is purely compositional.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: nathanb on October 06, 2016, 04:24:52 PM
Is there an aversion to Adams because he's still associated with minimalism?

That stuff is so forty years ago.

No?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Reckoner on October 07, 2016, 02:05:23 AM
lol, that may have sounded strange - it's just that minimalism is and has always been an easy target. A poor presumption on my part.

In any case, I'm not so sure I agree that his recent stuff is necessarily a drop-off compared to earlier works. Certainly he's tried a few things that he hadn't before, like the quartets, the jazz-influenced orchestral works (City Noir / Sax Concerto) and even Dharma.

I'll try and give Sheherezade.2 a spin soon.  8)

Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: amw on October 07, 2016, 04:31:33 AM
While I'm here, can anyone recommend a recording of Adams's original Violin Concerto (the one from 1995)? I did hear it once some years ago and didn't find it convincing as a work, but stuff I've read recently has made me want to hear it again just out of curiosity.
Ok well since nobody had any recs I just listened to the new one on Signum.

More so than the articles I read, I think knowing more "classic" minimalism (Reich, Glass, etc) at this point is what enabled me to understand the music better: I feel like I get more of the references. It's not a very memorable piece I suppose, but perfectly listenable, and I don't regret my time spent. Performance seems high-quality and advocates for the music fairly well.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 07, 2016, 04:56:33 AM
Well, and Reich/Adams/Glass isn't really minimalism, is it? Feldman—now that's minimalism.

All the repeat signs and all the busy-ness, minimalist? Lazyist, maybe  0:)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: North Star on October 07, 2016, 05:21:41 AM
All the repeat signs and all the busy-ness, minimalist? Lazyist, maybe  0:)
Well, is it any more accurate to call busyness lazyist?  0:)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 07, 2016, 06:10:19 AM
Well, is it any more accurate to call busyness lazyist?  0:)

8)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on October 07, 2016, 07:05:07 AM
Ok well since nobody had any recs I just listened to the new one on Signum.

Is that the one coupled with the Harris VC? I'm interested in that disc, tho' mainly for the Harris.

I have McDuffie/Eschenbach in the Adams, which indeed sounds perfectly respectable to me, but I have nothing to compare it with.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: amw on October 07, 2016, 07:08:57 AM
Yes. I didn't listen to the Harris concerto though.

Am fairly sure McDuffie/Eschenbach is the recording I'd previously heard 300 years ago and found quite boring, but I think the difference was more in me than in the recording.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: nathanb on October 07, 2016, 10:07:46 AM
Well, and Reich/Adams/Glass isn't really minimalism, is it? Feldman—now that's minimalism.

All the repeat signs and all the busy-ness, minimalist? Lazyist, maybe  0:)

Minimal means versus minimal ends

Considering 20th century style is so often defined by means rather than ends ("serialism", "spectralism", "indeterminacy"), yes, the minimal means of Reich/Adams/Glass qualifies moreso than the elaborate interwoven asymmetries of Feldman's "minimal ends" (see also Klaus Lang, Jakob Ullmann, Jurg Frey, Antoine Beuger, Michael Pisaro, Francisco Lopez, etc...).
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 07, 2016, 10:11:40 AM
Minimal means versus minimal ends

Considering 20th century style is so often defined by means rather than ends ("serialism", "spectralism", "indeterminacy"), yes, the minimal means of Reich/Adams/Glass qualifies moreso than the elaborate interwoven asymmetries of Feldman's "minimal ends" (see also Klaus Lang, Jakob Ullmann, Jurg Frey, Antoine Beuger, Michael Pisaro, Francisco Lopez, etc...).

Good answer;  though, really, I was only jesting.  (It was not any infinite jest.)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Reckoner on October 07, 2016, 11:44:40 AM
Good answer;  though, really, I was only jesting.  (It was not any infinite jest.)

You could call it an absolute jest.   ;)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 07, 2016, 11:46:38 AM
I guess I pivoted to Hamlet there.  It was not to be.  Or to be.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: nathanb on October 07, 2016, 11:47:54 AM
You could call it an absolute jest.   ;)

You should call a doctor if your erection lasts more than four hours.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Reckoner on October 07, 2016, 11:49:31 AM
 ;D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on July 26, 2017, 10:56:38 AM
Last night at Ravinia:

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Kent Nagano, conductor
Nikolai Lugansky, pianist
John Adams: Harmonielehre
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)

This was actually my second time hearing Harmonielehre live, as well as my second time hearing Nagano live. It was a very driven, big-sounding, "industrial" performance, perfect for an outdoor festival where the orchestra has to compete with the cicadas and the occasional rumbling of trains. Audience loved it as far as I could tell.

During intermission, I bought this year's Ravinia poster (one of their prettiest ever!) to fill a space on my wall.

The Beethoven was predictably good, but I overdosed on the "Emperor" long ago.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Senta on August 02, 2017, 07:19:14 PM
Aside from the last post this thread has been dead since October! :o Time to change that!

Adams has been tweeting about finishing his new opera, which premieres this fall at San Francisco Opera - Girls of the Golden West (https://www.earbox.com/girls-golden-west/)

Sounds..interesting? Anyone planning to go? Perhaps I'll get a chance in 2018-19, I see Dallas Opera is a co-commissioner.

In January finally got to see Nixon in China at HGO, one more work to cross off the list ;) It was excellent!

In early spring literally every concert I attended featured a John Adams piece, in celebration of his birthday - heard Sax Concerto and Doctor Atomic in Houston, and Scheherazade.2 and Slonimsky's Earbox in Chicago.

Doctor Atomic really is fabulous, isn't it...god I love that opera!! Works very well in the condensed symphony form too. "Knock, Breathe, Shine" is still so incredibly beautiful and just gets me every time (whether vocal, or trumpet).

And I was so very excited to get to hear Slonimsky's Earbox! Amazing, amazing piece. Just awesome to hear live. So much crazy, magical goodness in just 13 minutes.

The two new concertos -

Well, I quite enjoy Scheherazade.2! Seeing Leila Josefowicz slay it live made me fall for it even more, definitely growing on me with each listen. I love all the exotic color and drama, though it feels overlong somehow.

I wish there were good video somewhere of Leila playing this because she totally lights it on fire, feeling every note and completely taking on the Scheherazade character - spellbinding! Seriously one of the most thrilling solo performances I've ever seen.

The Saxophone Concerto - I was honestly kind of surprised when it came out, because I felt like he just did a Sax Concerto basically in City Noir (which I very much like, especially the sax part) - so I can't help but compare them due to that, and City Noir still comes out on top for me.

I mean, sax is my instrument, maybe I'm being picky - it's indeed a super fun concerto, clever writing, fiendishly hard, but I guess I wanted more of what was in Noir - longer lines and more tunes, less noodles. Just expected something different perhaps.

I would also agree I generally love and adore his earlier works more than later, although I haven't even heard some of his more recent vocal works yet as I'm more drawn to the orchestral stuff.

Actually think I'm about to listen to the BBC Proms performance that just happened today - Naive and Sentimental Music with Salonen/Philharmonia, some of Adams at his best for sure.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 03, 2017, 01:34:47 AM
Very enjoyable run-down, Senta, thanks!
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 03, 2017, 01:36:36 AM
Last night at Ravinia:

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Kent Nagano, conductor
Nikolai Lugansky, pianist
John Adams: Harmonielehre
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)

This was actually my second time hearing Harmonielehre live, as well as my second time hearing Nagano live. It was a very driven, big-sounding, "industrial" performance, perfect for an outdoor festival where the orchestra has to compete with the cicadas and the occasional rumbling of trains. Audience loved it as far as I could tell.

During intermission, I bought this year's Ravinia poster (one of their prettiest ever!) to fill a space on my wall.

The Beethoven was predictably good, but I overdosed on the "Emperor" long ago.

I’ve been meaning to revisit Harmonielehre.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Catison on August 08, 2017, 12:59:07 PM
I have that disc... sitting in a box somewhere.

Anyway, for those who are interested, the original, four-movement Doctor Atomic Symphony, with the LSO conducted by the composer:

https://mega.co.nz/#!DIoAkb7b!OIpGvglMiZZ2DSb7hHgs3N83kC2dNhTjEOmHzIoxWl8

Any chance you still have this recording?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Brian on January 10, 2019, 08:56:28 AM
Just had a nice 30ish minute phone conversation with Mr. Adams. He's conducting the LA Philharmonic this week, but coming to Dallas soon, so this was a preview chat for the Dallas concert. He hung up with the single best excuse I've ever heard: "I have to go, I see Philip Glass just sent me two emails with changes to the score, and our rehearsal is in 90 minutes."
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: kyjo on January 10, 2019, 10:41:32 AM
Just had a nice 30ish minute phone conversation with Mr. Adams. He's conducting the LA Philharmonic this week, but coming to Dallas soon, so this was a preview chat for the Dallas concert. He hung up with the single best excuse I've ever heard: "I have to go, I see Philip Glass just sent me two emails with changes to the score, and our rehearsal is in 90 minutes."

Ha! ;D
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Brian on January 29, 2019, 08:16:27 AM
Here's my full interview with John Adams (https://www.dallasobserver.com/arts/things-to-do-in-dallas-john-adams-at-dallas-symphony-orchestra-11531991) - very little is about his own music and there are no "scoops" there, because we mostly talked about the state of the classical composing industry in general and how he sees the younger generation of music writers.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 10, 2020, 03:24:46 PM
Listening to Shaker Loops on New Albion and really enjoying it, the quiet, shimmering slow movement (I think? on this disc the work is in one track) is something else. 

(https://i.postimg.cc/dVLx44VD/image-2020-03-10-T192057-055.jpg)

This is my first exposure to any Adams, though I understand he is a preeminent American composer. What are some other good works (or better, good recordings) that are somewhat accessible to a newcomer to his music...?

Anyone else been listening to Adams lately?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Maestro267 on March 11, 2020, 05:31:32 AM
I picked up my first disc of Adams' music last autumn. The main item is Harmonielehre, a symphony in all but name. 43 minutes, for large orchestra. I really enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 11, 2020, 08:46:24 AM
I picked up my first disc of Adams' music last autumn. The main item is Harmonielehre, a symphony in all but name. 43 minutes, for large orchestra. I really enjoyed it.

I think I'm going to get the Rattle/CBSO recording of this work. I didn't realize it was symphonic in any way, but I have not heard it all.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2020, 09:05:50 AM
I think I'm going to get the Rattle/CBSO recording of this work. I didn't realize it was symphonic in any way, but I have not heard it all.

I’d shell out some more money and get the MTT recording. Granted, it doesn’t have The Chairman Dances or Tromba Lontana, but what it lacks in playing time, it makes up for in superb playing. For me, this is the best Harmonielehre on record. This recording even surpasses the Edo de Waart recording (the premiere recording of this work) on Nonesuch and that’s saying a lot as this was my favorite performance prior to hearing the MTT. I’m not a huge Adams fan but I seem to recall favorites being, besides Harmonielehre, Naive and Sentimental Music, The Dharma at Big Sur, Gnarly Buttons, Harmonium, and The Chairman Dances from “Nixon in China”.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 11, 2020, 09:27:32 AM
I’d shell out some more money and get the MTT recording. Granted, it doesn’t have The Chairman Dances or Tromba Lontana, but what it lacks in playing time, it makes up for in superb playing. For me, this is the best Harmonielehre on record. This recording even surpasses the Edo de Waart recording (the premiere recording of this work) on Nonesuch and that’s saying a lot as this was my favorite performance prior to hearing the MTT. I’m not a huge Adams fan but I seem to recall favorites being, besides Harmonielehre, Naive and Sentimental Music, The Dharma at Big Sur, Gnarly Buttons, Harmonium, and The Chairman Dances from “Nixon in China”.

I'll sample it, though I must admit I've never been impressed with any recording I've heard of MTT's. It's not too big a price difference in any case, so if I do enjoy it that much more than the other, I'm sure it'd be worth it. We'll see. Thanks for the rec.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2020, 09:29:20 AM
I'll sample it, though I must admit I've never been impressed with any recording I've heard of MTT's. It's not too big a price difference in any case, so if I do enjoy it that much more than the other, I'm sure it'd be worth it. We'll see. Thanks for the rec.

I thought you liked his Janáček recording?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 11, 2020, 09:47:36 AM
I thought you liked his Janáček recording?

I'm coming around on it. I picked it up used for cheap at a record store a few months back, didn't care for either of the works on first listen, but as of the past week or so I've been revisiting it and finding more to enjoy in it, the Sinfonietta in particular. I'll have to listen to the Glagolitic Mass again soon. But in any case I give Janáček more credit than MTT for this discovery.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2020, 09:49:08 AM
I'm coming around on it. I picked it up used for cheap at a record store a few months back, didn't care for either of the works on first listen, but as of the past week or so I've been revisiting it and finding more to enjoy in it, the Sinfonietta in particular. I'll have to listen to the Glagolitic Mass again soon. But in any case I give Janáček more credit than MTT for this discovery.

But if the performances were mediocre, then who would you be blaming then --- the composer? He obviously had no involvement with it. ;) It sounds like to me you just can’t admit that you actually like one of MTT’s recordings. :) Oh and Janáček is a brilliant composer. One of my favorites.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 11, 2020, 09:58:11 AM
But if the performances were mediocre, then who would you be blaming then --- the composer? He obviously had no involvement with it. ;) It sounds like to me you just can’t admit that you actually like one of MTT’s recordings. :) Oh and Janáček is a brilliant composer. One of my favorites.

Fine, fine, I admit it. It's a good recording. ;D Yes, I'm happy to be coming around on Janáček, I've enjoyed much of what I've heard of his work. And I guess I owe it to myself to give more of MTT's recordings a chance.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2020, 10:01:28 AM
Fine, fine, I admit it. It's a good recording. ;D Yes, I'm happy to be coming around on Janáček, I've enjoyed much of what I've heard of his work. And I guess I owe it to myself to give more of MTT's recordings a chance.

Hah! :D Another composer MTT does incredibly well in is Ives.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: vers la flamme on March 11, 2020, 10:05:48 AM
Hah! :D Another composer MTT does incredibly well in is Ives.

I've got one of the MTT Ives CDs; Symphony No.3 and Orchestral Suite No.2 with the RCO. I haven't given up on it yet, but I have not been as impressed as I have been with the Bernstein Ives recordings I also have. Ives is not a composer I consider to be a favorite, but I recognize his importance and do enjoy some of his music. I'll try and give that disc a listen today or tomorrow.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2020, 10:08:38 AM
I've got one of the MTT Ives CDs; Symphony No.3 and Orchestral Suite No.2 with the RCO. I haven't given up on it yet, but I have not been as impressed as I have been with the Bernstein Ives recordings I also have. Ives is not a composer I consider to be a favorite, but I recognize his importance and do enjoy some of his music. I'll try and give that disc a listen today or tomorrow.

Ives was one of the first composers I got into and left a huge impression on me. I can certainly understand how Ives would be difficult for some listeners.

Anyway back to Adams... (even though I’ve got nothing to say about this composer) :)
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Maestro267 on March 13, 2020, 01:52:20 AM
I think I'm going to get the Rattle/CBSO recording of this work. I didn't realize it was symphonic in any way, but I have not heard it all.

Anything can be symphonic in the 20th century. Harmonielehre is a substantial statement in three movements for a large symphony orchestra. Ticks all the boxes of what can broadly be termed A Symphony.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: kyjo on June 05, 2020, 12:37:49 PM
Anything can be symphonic in the 20th century. Harmonielehre is a substantial statement in three movements for a large symphony orchestra. Ticks all the boxes of what can broadly be termed A Symphony.

+1 Harmonielehre is an incredible work! I’ve also recently been struck by his “choral symphony” Harmonium, a work of thrilling, intoxicating energy:

https://youtu.be/BM0w3kukbQs
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on June 05, 2020, 01:13:00 PM
+1 Harmonielehre is an incredible work! I’ve also recently been struck by his “choral symphony” Harmonium, a work of thrilling, intoxicating energy:

https://youtu.be/BM0w3kukbQs

Harmonium is a fantastic work, Kyle. What other Adams works do you enjoy besides Harmonium and Harmonielehre?
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: kyjo on June 05, 2020, 01:50:24 PM
Harmonium is a fantastic work, Kyle. What other Adams works do you enjoy besides Harmonium and Harmonielehre?

Well, most pieces I’ve heard by him, pretty much: The Chairman Dances, Century Rolls, Shaker Loops, Scheherazade.2, Absolute Jest, and Fellow Traveler, to name a few. I tend to be rather skeptical about contemporary composers who garner a lot of “hype” but I think in Adams’ case it’s mostly deserved, although of course there are many other contemporary composers who should get more exposure but don’t.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on June 05, 2020, 02:50:13 PM
Well, most pieces I’ve heard by him, pretty much: The Chairman Dances, Century Rolls, Shaker Loops, Scheherazade.2, Absolute Jest, and Fellow Traveler, to name a few. I tend to be rather skeptical about contemporary composers who garner a lot of “hype” but I think in Adams’ case it’s mostly deserved, although of course there are many other contemporary composers who should get more exposure but don’t.

Very nice, Kyle. Besides Harmonium, Harmonielehre and Shaker Loops (three masterpieces, IMHO), I also love Naive & Sentimental Music, the Violin Concerto, Grand Pianola Music, The Dharma at Big Sur, My Father Knew Charles Ives, Gnarly Buttons, The Wound-Dresser and his latest work, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? is quite good I must say. Ferociously difficult to perform I imagine, but this is the kind of work that rewards the listener, especially when they go back and listen to it again. I do rather like The Chairman Dances as well. I have never cared for any of his operas and I found the last time I tried to listen to Nixon in China it was a slog to get through, but, of course, I’m not really a huge opera fan to begin with.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: CRCulver on June 05, 2020, 10:51:44 PM
For me, the HD release of the Metropolitan Opera production of Nixon in China was the key to getting into that work. It is much more engaging when you can see the visuals. Especially the Madame Mao coloratura soprano part is exciting to watch.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Symphonic Addict on June 06, 2020, 08:50:05 AM
The last work I heard of him was John's Book of Alleged Dances, for string quartet (from this recording):

(https://img.discogs.com/L5hkcR6yIbwhGxVMUsoEM487C1Q=/fit-in/600x534/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-4394445-1363719894-3142.jpeg.jpg)

Thoroughly fun. I recall being quite excited by the vitality and wit of this piece. Recommended for those who don't know it yet.

Adams may be my favorite minimalist composer.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 29, 2021, 06:35:55 AM
The last work I heard of him was John's Book of Alleged Dances, for string quartet (from this recording):

(https://img.discogs.com/L5hkcR6yIbwhGxVMUsoEM487C1Q=/fit-in/600x534/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-4394445-1363719894-3142.jpeg.jpg)

Thoroughly fun. I recall being quite excited by the vitality and wit of this piece. Recommended for those who don't know it yet.

Adams may be my favorite minimalist composer.

This is a great work, Cesar. I do wonder, however, if its fair to call Adams a Minimalist when the evolution of the composer is quite noticeable after those works like Harmonielehre, Nixon in China and Shaker Loops for example.

Here's an interesting quote from Adams: "I don't think you can be a great composer unless you have a feeling for harmony." Being a harmonically-minded musician myself, I sympathize with this viewpoint. Besides Adams great sense of rhythm, I think his harmonic language is quite interesting in that he kind of borrows from Late-Romanticism (Impressionism as well) and jazz and found a way to combine them. I think his melodic gifts also don't get mentioned enough, but often his melodies are somehow tied into the rhythms, which lends a unique sound altogether.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Symphonic Addict on September 29, 2021, 06:21:43 PM
This is a great work, Cesar. I do wonder, however, if its fair to call Adams a Minimalist when the evolution of the composer is quite noticeable after those works like Harmonielehre, Nixon in China and Shaker Loops for example.

Here's an interesting quote from Adams: "I don't think you can be a great composer unless you have a feeling for harmony." Being a harmonically-minded musician myself, I sympathize with this viewpoint. Besides Adams great sense of rhythm, I think his harmonic language is quite interesting in that he kind of borrows from Late-Romanticism (Impressionism as well) and jazz and found a way to combine them. I think his melodic gifts also don't get mentioned enough, but often his melodies are somehow tied into the rhythms, which lends a unique sound altogether.

I have to agree with all what you expressed here, John. Yes, Adams is far from being minimalist, actually. His sound world is much richer and variegated.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 29, 2021, 06:24:49 PM
I have to agree with all what you expressed here, John. Yes, Adams is far from being minimalist, actually. His sound world is much richer and variegated.

Yes, indeed. Have you heard any of the operas, Cesar? I listened to The Death of Klinghoffer earlier today and enjoyed it immensely. I think the next one I'll listen to is Doctor Atomic.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Symphonic Addict on September 29, 2021, 06:40:56 PM
Yes, indeed. Have you heard any of the operas, Cesar? I listened to The Death of Klinghoffer earlier today and enjoyed it immensely. I think the next one I'll listen to is Doctor Atomic.

No, I haven't, John. I scarcely know some orchestral works and chamber pieces, and that's all. I could be interested in them in the future.
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on September 29, 2021, 07:27:49 PM
No, I haven't, John. I scarcely know some orchestral works and chamber pieces, and that's all. I could be interested in them in the future.

Here's a video you might be interested in and anyone else who is just getting into Adams' music or what a better understanding of it:

https://www.youtube.com/v/LRCtCB3y7mI
Title: Re: Adams' Apple-Cart (John Coolidge, that is!)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 02, 2021, 11:44:02 AM
From the 'Listening' thread -

NP:

Adams
Harmonielehre
Berliners
Adams


From this new arrival -

(https://www.berliner-philharmoniker-recordings.com/media/catalog/product/cache/12/small_image/1120x600/5766eae6cfada402ea86d24907760aa8/b/p/bphr170141_john-adams_cover.jpg)

Stunning! Adams' own take on his classic Harmonielehre is a bit on the slower side, but you can really hear all of the details of the work shine through. Completely exhilarating in its aural beauty.

An absolute first-rate performance of this masterpiece. Adams himself is quite a capable conductor and everything I've heard him conduct has been superb. For those Adams fans here, the Berliner box set is worth every penny even if you just download it for this performance. I'm quite curious to see some the documentaries on the blu-ray discs, especially where Adams talks about the works presented in this set.

Here's some videos that may be of interest:

https://www.youtube.com/v/0WAE6Urqmlc

https://www.youtube.com/v/zHDJQ_kfmCg