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NY Times: John Adams "An Inspired Advocate" for Louis Andriessen in Carnegie Hall Performance of "De Staat"

John Adams, Louis Andriessen

West Coast-based composer John Adams continues his East Coast concert schedule tomorrow with the first of his performances with the National Symphony Orchestra for The Kennedy Center's John Adams: Perspectives. On Monday, Adams led Ensemble ACJW in a program featuring his Son of Chamber Symphony, Stravinsky's Concert for Piano and Winds, and Louis Andriessen's De Staat, in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in New York. It was the final event curated by Andriessen as holder of Carnegie's Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for 2009–2010.

New York Times classical music critic Anthony Tommasini says "it was a thrill to hear the adventurous players of Ensemble ACJW perform De Staat," a piece Andriessen wrote in 1976 but which is rarely performed in concert.

"As the piece evolves, there are brassy blasts, pummeling pianos, every-which-way counterpoint, entangled bits of text among the four hard-working singers, overall craziness and, at times, a relentless din," Tommasini writes. "The musicians seemed swept away yet fully in control throughout the mesmerizing performance."

In the review, Tommasini calls Adams "an inspired advocate" for Andriessen and concludes of Ensemble ACJW's final concert of the season: "What a way to end it."

Read the full concert review at


One day before the Zankel concert, Adams and Ensemble ACJW performed the program at the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia, a presentation of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. The Philadelphia Inquirer says that what is "so astonishing" about De Staat after all this time "is that it seems ... so completely up to date."

Inquirer classical music critic Peter Dobrin writes: "The influences are Reich, Stravinsky, Indian raga, and of course, Plato, whose text is incanted by four female vocalists. Patterns restate and evolve—and rather than becoming rote, the slow sense of shifting becomes the source of a pleasurable, consuming hypnotism."

Read the review at


The 1991 Nonesuch Records release of De Staat, performed by the Schoenberg Ensemble and conductor Reinbert de Leeuw, marked the start of Andriessen's recording relationship with the label, which has led to five additional albums since. De Staat is available as a high-quality digital album in the Nonesuch Store.


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