El Dorado

Submitted by nonesuch on
Release Date
DescriptionExcerpt

This Grammy-winning musical diptych contrasts images of ruined landscapes with glimpses of an imagined Arcadia. The New York Times praised “the technical ingenuity and expressive power on display here ... Mr. Adams remains the leading composer of his generation.”

Description

1997 Grammy Award Winner

Full of twists and turns, changes in tempo, and passages both melodic and fervent John Adams's orchestral piece El Dorado has been compared to Bolero in its intensity. “A Dream of Gold,” the 15-minute first movement, begins softly and gradually builds to a surging climax, while the contrasting second movement, “Soledades,” is slower in tempo and more melodic throughout. The piece is performed on this Nonesuch recording by the Hallé Orchestra with Kent Nagano conducting.

After its 1993 New York premiere, the New York Times said of El Dorado that it “demonstrates why Mr. Adams remains the leading composer of his generation," calling the first movement "a spellbinding exercise in continual crescendo, an orchestral wildfire sparked by sinister rustlings of percussion.” In his liner note, Adams describes it as follows:

Virtually every musical sign in this movement has an upward pointing vector. Some of these vectors reach their zenith and evaporate into the stratosphere. Others, like that of the heavy brass in the middle of the movement, create gigantic arches, soaring high and then dipping back down to draw more material upward with them, all the time gaining in mass and propulsion. Eventually the tempo springs loose from the stress of all this weight, and the music is suddenly thrust headlong into overdrive, doubling its speed and charging ahead, a terrible machine loose in the backwaters of Eden.

“Soledades,” acclaimed by the San Francisco Examiner for its “heart-stopping lyricism,” creates a mood dramatically different from that of the first movement. Adams cites as its “spiritual ancestors” the Sixth Symphony of Sibelius and his own Shaker Loops and Common Tones in Simple Time.

Also included on the recording is Adams’s orchestral arrangement of Liszt’s La lugubre gondola II, The Black Gondola, and Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque, both performed by the London Sinfonietta, with Adams conducting. The Black Gondola, which represents the composer’s vision of the funeral procession transporting Wagner’s coffin through Venice, retains the beautifully solemn nature of the original chamber work. Much as Liszt’s composition reflects the sense of loss he felt as he contemplated Wagner’s death, Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque is the composer’s intimate reflection on the death of his mother.

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
El Dorado
Produced by Martin Sauer
Recorded July 1993 at BBC Studios, Manchester, England
Engineered by Don Hartridge

Berceuse élégiaque and The Black Gondola
Produced by Tommy Krasker
Recorded December 1995 at Abbey Road Studios, London, England
Engineered by John McClure
Assistant Engineer: David Flower
Edited by Ric Wilso at Digisonics, Northridge, CA

Mastered by Paul Zinman at SoundByte Productions, NYC

Design by John Heiden for SMOG
Cover: Pedro Meyer, Virgil on the Greased Pole, Nochistlan, Oaxaca 1991/92, from Truths & Fictions, Aperture, New York 1995

Nonesuch Selection Number

79359

Number of Discs in Set
1disc
ns_album_artistid
2
ns_album_id
5
ns_album_releasedate
ns_genre_1
0
ns_genre_2
0
Album Status
Artist Name
John Adams
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
El Dorado
The Halle Orchestra
Kent Nagano, conductor

Berceuse élégiaque and The Black Gondola
London Sinfonietta
John Adams, conductor

Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
CD+MP3
Price
0.00
UPC
075597935929BUN
Label
MP3
Price
9.00
UPC
081227781668
  • 79359

News & Reviews

  • Girls of the Golden West, John Adams’ eighth music theater work to be released by Nonesuch, is due April 26. The composer leads the LA Phil in this recording made in Disney Hall, with the Los Angeles Master Chorale led by Grant Gershon. You can hear the aria "Wagon Ride," featuring Davóne Tines and Julia Bullock, now. For the opera, which tells the story of the California Gold Rush, longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars drew from original sources from the era—letters, journals, newspaper articles, and familiar song lyrics—to create the libretto. The cast also includes Paul Appleby, Hye Jung Lee, Elliot Madore, Daniela Mack, and Ryan McKinny.

  • The Metropolitan Opera has announced its 2024–25 season, including the Met premiere of John Adams's latest opera, Antony and Cleopatra, on May 12, 2025. The adaptation of Shakespeare’s drama stars soprano Julia Bullock, following her company debut in Adams’s El Niño this April, as Cleopatra, opposite bass-baritone Gerald Finley’s Antony. Adams himself conducts a new staging by director Elkhanah Pulitzer, who transports the story from ancient Rome to the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s. Performances run through June 7, 2025. 

Buy Now

  • About This Album

    1997 Grammy Award Winner

    Full of twists and turns, changes in tempo, and passages both melodic and fervent John Adams's orchestral piece El Dorado has been compared to Bolero in its intensity. “A Dream of Gold,” the 15-minute first movement, begins softly and gradually builds to a surging climax, while the contrasting second movement, “Soledades,” is slower in tempo and more melodic throughout. The piece is performed on this Nonesuch recording by the Hallé Orchestra with Kent Nagano conducting.

    After its 1993 New York premiere, the New York Times said of El Dorado that it “demonstrates why Mr. Adams remains the leading composer of his generation," calling the first movement "a spellbinding exercise in continual crescendo, an orchestral wildfire sparked by sinister rustlings of percussion.” In his liner note, Adams describes it as follows:

    Virtually every musical sign in this movement has an upward pointing vector. Some of these vectors reach their zenith and evaporate into the stratosphere. Others, like that of the heavy brass in the middle of the movement, create gigantic arches, soaring high and then dipping back down to draw more material upward with them, all the time gaining in mass and propulsion. Eventually the tempo springs loose from the stress of all this weight, and the music is suddenly thrust headlong into overdrive, doubling its speed and charging ahead, a terrible machine loose in the backwaters of Eden.

    “Soledades,” acclaimed by the San Francisco Examiner for its “heart-stopping lyricism,” creates a mood dramatically different from that of the first movement. Adams cites as its “spiritual ancestors” the Sixth Symphony of Sibelius and his own Shaker Loops and Common Tones in Simple Time.

    Also included on the recording is Adams’s orchestral arrangement of Liszt’s La lugubre gondola II, The Black Gondola, and Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque, both performed by the London Sinfonietta, with Adams conducting. The Black Gondola, which represents the composer’s vision of the funeral procession transporting Wagner’s coffin through Venice, retains the beautifully solemn nature of the original chamber work. Much as Liszt’s composition reflects the sense of loss he felt as he contemplated Wagner’s death, Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque is the composer’s intimate reflection on the death of his mother.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    El Dorado
    The Halle Orchestra
    Kent Nagano, conductor

    Berceuse élégiaque and The Black Gondola
    London Sinfonietta
    John Adams, conductor

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    El Dorado
    Produced by Martin Sauer
    Recorded July 1993 at BBC Studios, Manchester, England
    Engineered by Don Hartridge

    Berceuse élégiaque and The Black Gondola
    Produced by Tommy Krasker
    Recorded December 1995 at Abbey Road Studios, London, England
    Engineered by John McClure
    Assistant Engineer: David Flower
    Edited by Ric Wilso at Digisonics, Northridge, CA

    Mastered by Paul Zinman at SoundByte Productions, NYC

    Design by John Heiden for SMOG
    Cover: Pedro Meyer, Virgil on the Greased Pole, Nochistlan, Oaxaca 1991/92, from Truths & Fictions, Aperture, New York 1995

More From John Adams, Los Angeles Philharmonic