Adams: Shaker Loops

Adams: Shaker Loops

by Marin Alsop
     
 

Like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, John Adams has developed minimalism into a more expressive and versatile language than it promised in the 1970s, when pattern music was at its height but also at its most rigorous and severe. Judging from the works on this 2004 Naxos release, Adams has progressed from the limitations of static repetition, staggered loops, and strict… See more details below

Overview

Like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, John Adams has developed minimalism into a more expressive and versatile language than it promised in the 1970s, when pattern music was at its height but also at its most rigorous and severe. Judging from the works on this 2004 Naxos release, Adams has progressed from the limitations of static repetition, staggered loops, and strict additive cycles to a much freer and personal style; his music sometimes features identifiable minimalist techniques but is more often dominated by an emotional lyricism and nostalgia that tend strongly toward neo-Romanticism. Adams' earlier interests are quite apparent in the energetic flurries of "Shaker Loops" (1978, revised in 1983) and the exciting rhythmic propulsion of "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" (1986); yet through their colorful orchestration and comparatively free use of ostinati, both works seem worlds away from the hard-edged sounds or restricted parameters of hardcore minimalism. The dark, evocative setting of Walt Whitman's poem "The Wound-Dresser" (1988) and the mysterious "Berceuse élégiaque" (1991) are even more liberated from minimalist constraints, and seem rather more influenced by Copland than either Glass or Reich. Baritone Nathan Gunn and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, directed by Marin Alsop, serve Adams well on this intelligently programmed album, and Naxos provides fine sound.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
The breathless performance of "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" vibrantly conveys the quality of John Adams's music that the conductor Simon Rattle has likened to "a light aircraft, flying rather fast and close to the ground." The accounts of the wistful "Berceuse Élégiaque" and the ecstatic "Shaker Loops," a de facto four-movement symphony, are incisive and bracing. Best of all, perhaps, is Ms. Alsop's intense yet magisterial performance of "The Wound-Dresser."
Gramophone - Andrew Farach-Colton
All in all, this vividly recorded, inexpensive disc should make a compelling introduction to Adams’ music.
BBC Music Magazine - Calum MacDonald
[Alsop] coaxes superb playing out of the Bournemouth strings in Shaker Loops.
Fanfare - Raymond Tuttle
All in all, the availability of the Nonesuch recordings does not make this Naxos release superfluous. Alsop is a fine conductor, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra plays well for her, and then there’s that Naxos price! If you’ve been curious about Adams’s music, but have not been willing to pay Nonesuch prices to hear it, here are four of Adams’s best works in competitive performances at a fraction of the cost.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/19/2004
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943903124
catalogNumber:
8559031
Rank:
12769

Tracks

  1. Short Ride in a Fast Machine, fanfare for orchestra  - John Adams  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  2. The Wound-Dresser, for baritone & orchestra  - John Adams  - Marin Alsop  -  Walt Whitman  - Nathan Gunn  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  3. Berceuse élégiaque, arrangement for small orchestra of Busoni original  - John Adams  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  4. Shaker Loops, for 7 strings or string orchestra  - John Adams  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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