John Adams dean of American new music

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lennygoran
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John Adams dean of American new music

Post by lennygoran » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:46 pm

So sorry I never got to see his Klinghoffer HD style--of course it was originally scheduled. Regards, Len :(


Review: John Adams Wrestles the Ghosts of His Musical Fathers

By CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM MARCH 10, 2017


The New York Philharmonic opened what was billed as an all-John Adams concert on Thursday with a bit of Beethoven. Mr. Adams, reacting from the stage of David Geffen Hall, said he felt tempted to “quit while I’m ahead and skip my own piece.”

Of course, the moment and the comment were rehearsed. The program was designed to celebrate Mr. Adams’s recent 70th birthday and his status, as the conductor Alan Gilbert introduced him, as the “dean of American new music.” Mr. Adams is part of a generation of musical innovators who continue to be revered as mavericks by a loyal and diverse fan base even as they enjoy the backing of the field’s big institutions. His operas have made up most of the contemporary fare offered at the Metropolitan Opera House in recent years. The days when his embrace of bright tonality and luscious symphonic textures chafed against the aesthetics of a modernist mainstream are gone, along with the very notion of a mainstream.

Even so, the confrontation with other composers is often played out in broad daylight in Mr. Adams’s music — whether with a hero like Beethoven or a respected antagonist like Schoenberg. Thursday’s brilliant and engaging concert presented two very different expressions of that confrontation, one characterized by flirtatious irreverence, the other by a dreamlike state of metamorphosis, in which the borders between the composer’s self and the ghosts of his musical father figures dissolved.

The first half of the concert was given over to a sparkling performance of Mr. Adams’s “Absolute Jest” (2012), an exuberant concerto grosso for lightly amplified string quartet and large symphony orchestra, which quotes extensively from Beethoven. Hence the helpful but tantalizingly brief Beethoven samples offered as part of preconcert remarks by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, a marvelous ensemble newly formed by principal players from the orchestra.

Underpinning the piece is the impatient rhythmic motif from the scherzo of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It eggs on the virtuosic passages — played with delightful sass especially by the Philharmonic’s concertmaster, Frank Huang — and pops up, hiccup-like, even in lyrical moments. The blend of Beethoven snippets is kaleidoscopic, and with the two sonic planes — string quartet versus massive tutti — add to the dizzying effort of chasing the ever-changing focal points. The work seems to end abruptly, with just the resonant cloud of a small group of slightly (and purposely) mistuned percussion instruments lingering, like the wobble that signals the end of a dream sequence in movies.

In “Harmonielehre,” a gleamingly confident work completed in 1985, Mr. Adams’s influences are absorbed more fluidly without the clean-edged quotations of “Absolute Jest.” Structured in three parts, with an achingly beautiful slow movement at the center, it’s a tour de force of Technicolor orchestration and ample melodicism.

The title is borrowed from a treatise on harmony by Schoenberg, a composer whose legacy Mr. Adams breaks with even as he acknowledges their common DNA. “Harmonielehre” pays homage to the voluptuous textures of late Romanticism, wedded in the outer movements to a rhythmic sense of purpose and stridency that feels urban and fresh.

Under the careful stewardship of Mr. Gilbert, the Philharmonic played it with passion and elegance. The ensemble’s sound in Part 2, where a high fluted trumpet floats above languid strings, carried with it the memory of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which the orchestra played the previous week. As the melody seemed to climb and climb, tone colors grew ever brighter, with metallic reflections bouncing off the vast sea of thick-flowing strings.

The final movement zipped along to a steady pulse that advertised Mr. Adams’s roots in Minimalism. That constant pulse drew the ear to changes in orchestral texture — color, heat and grit — building to a euphoric homecoming that drew rapturous applause from the audience.



https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/arts ... ction&_r=0

Lance
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Re: John Adams dean of American new music

Post by Lance » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:21 am

Outstanding review! Very fine writing, indeed.
Lance G. Hill
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karlhenning
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Re: John Adams dean of American new music

Post by karlhenning » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:16 am

Of course, the moment and the comment were rehearsed.

; )

Cheers,
~k.
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http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
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maestrob
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Re: John Adams dean of American new music

Post by maestrob » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:57 pm

I would have given my eye teeth to hear Harmonielehre live: it's my favorite piece by Adams. Thanks for posting the review, Len!

lennygoran
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Re: John Adams dean of American new music

Post by lennygoran » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:48 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:57 pm
I would have given my eye teeth to hear Harmonielehre live: it's my favorite piece by Adams. Thanks for posting the review, Len!
Brian thanks-I heard it once and liked what I heard-I'll have to listen to it some more. Regards, Len

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