John Adams' Harmonielehre is the first "minimalist" symphony. Adams' earliest works followed the "pure" minimalism of Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but he soon found the strictures of this style limiting. So with each new composition, he pushed the boundaries a bit farther, either by adapting established forms or by creating his own. For "Harmonielehre," he took the basic structure of a symphony, dispensed with the traditional thematic development, and produced a piece as tight, dramatic, and powerful as any symphony in the repertory. The Chairman Dances -- an offshoot of Adams' opera Nixon in China -- is a slinky, slithering foxtrot with a shimmering orchestration that evokes winking Chinese lanterns. As for Short Ride in a Fast Machine, the composer has said: "You know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn't?" -- which should give you a good idea of the music's exhilarating zip. Simon Rattle puts the pedal to the metal with the Birmingham orchestra, steering through this music with the skill and verve of a Formula One racer.