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News & Reviews
- Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Congratulations to composer John Adams, who received an honorary degree from Yale University at the school's 312th Commencement held in New Haven yesterday. Adams' fellow honorees include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and author Edwidge Danticat (seated in the photo with Adams). "You have pushed the boundaries of music, layering sound upon sound, playing with silence and speech and song, extending minimalism," read the citation honoring Adams. "Creating symphonies, choral works, concerti, and historical operas, your compositions have comforted and confronted, amused and amazed, challenged and transformed."
- Wednesday, March 6, 2013
American Master: A Portrait of John Adams, a new film documentary about composer John Adams by Mark Kidel, will be broadcast for the first time on BBC4 TV on Friday, March 8, at 8 PM. The film, which offers a journey through the musical landscapes of the composer, will be repeated on BBC HD on March 15. The film will also be screened at the Barbican in London on March 16 as a prelude to the European premiere of Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the LA Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Watch an excerpt from the film here.
About this Album
John Adams, America’s most frequently programmed composer, released the premiere recording of his acclaimed Violin Concerto in April 1996, featuring violinist Gidon Kremer and the London Symphony Orchestra led by Kent Nagano. The Violin Concerto, which was written in 1993 and received the Grawemeyer Award in 1995, is paired on this album with Shaker Loops, Adams’s popular string orchestra work in its first available recording conducted by the composer, with a performance by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
The Violin Concerto, deemed “electrifying music” by the Village Voice, signifies Adams’s return to a large-scale sweeping lyricism, presenting Kremer in a virtuosic trek through a landscape of changing atmospheres. Alternating furious passagework, a dreamlike second movement of variations, and a finale of kinetic wonder that volleys between soloist and tutti, the work is poised to captivate Adams fans and new Listeners alike.
A co-commission between the Minnesota Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet, the piece was premiered in January 1994 by soloist Jorla Fleezanis and the Minnesota Orchestra under the baton of Edo de Waart. Reviewing a performance last summer at Tanglewood’s Contemporary Music Festival with violinist Laura Parks and conductor Stefan Asbury, the Boston Globe described the Violin Concerto as having “the qualities of intelligence, craftsmanship and quirkiness that have always marked the composer and his work; this time Adams also mingles virtuoso show with soul, popular appeal with the staying power that comes from intellectual interest.”
Begun in 1977 as a piece for string quartet, Shaker Loops evolved as Adams experimented with different minimalistic techniques. It was quickly modified for septet, then revised for orchestra in 1983, and it continues to be one of his most performed pieces. Shaker Loops was first performed in the septet version in 1978 by members of the New Music Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The version for string orchestra was first. heard in 1983 in a performance by the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas at New York City s Alice Tully Hall.
Adams says of the two pieces, “Beyond their stylistic earmarks, what links these two pieces most in my mind is their shared sense of untrussed virtuosity and physical energy They are both pieces about the act of playing a string instrument and specifically about a non-string player’s fascination with that art.”
Gidon Kremer, violin
London Symphony Orchestra
Kent Nagano, conductor
Orchestra of St. Luke's
John Adams, conductor
Produced by Martin Sauer
Recorded June 1994 at Abbey Road Studios, London
Engineered by Ulrich Ruscher
Mixed by Martin Sauer and John Adams and Radio France, Paris
Produced by Philip Waldway
Recorded November 1988 at Manhattan Center Studios, New York
Engineered by Paul Zinman
Assistant Engineer: Nelson Wong
Mastered by Paul Zinman at SoundByte Productions Inc., New York
Design by Barbara deWilde
Cover Photo by Tiziana De Silvestro
Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz