Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|John Adams, Welly Yang, Seppo Kantonen|
I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Soundtracks, Classical
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D. G. H. Haslett | Berlin | 12/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This work falls between two stools - on the one hand the style is eclectic, encompassing gospel, rock, sprechstimme, opera, musical theatre. On the other it could have been written by no one but Adams. He takes a variety of musical styles and makes them his own. I was initially puzzled by it but many subsequent hearings have confirmed that here is a wonderful piece of musical theatre, finding a depth of emotion that is light years ahead of the vacuousness of modern musical theatre (no names....!) If it recalls anyone other than the composer himself then it would be Sondheim - there is something of the New York composer in the small musical cells, subjected to numerous repetitions; but Adams' melodic gift is greater. As the wonderful title of the piece indicates, this is a piece about trnscending the mundane and finding spirituality in the most unlikely situations. I have played it countless times and it never fails to move and excite."
Typically subtle pop-inflected Adams, but no West Side Story
Sean M. Kelly | 03/23/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this was playing up in Berkeley, Paul Hertelendy of the San Jose Mercury News compared it to Bernstein's West Side Story -- i.e., a plainly commercial attempt in the genre of popular musical theatre. This it is. Adams lacks a kind of musical charisma to create memorable, singable popular tunes, so on that level it fails. A pop attempt like this is a little incongruous: as if the dapper and nattily dressed Adams himself were wearing baggy jeans and backward cap. It's trying to be something it can't be. But what Adams always does is, first, set the English language in an unexpected yet natural and effective way, and second, introduce a steady stream of subtleties that should entertain any fan of his music. There is some great stuff under the covers here, but it is neither succesfully pop-attuned (like West Side Story or Lloyd Webber) nor emotionally profound (like Adams' own Violin Concerto or Harmonium.)For all that, I like to hear Adams stretch himself and pop-inflected music at the same time, and since I think he's the best setter of the English language since Britten, I enjoyed "Ceiling ... Sky" (4 stars is my strong pro-Adams prejudice) and have been waiting for the CD since seeing the original Berkeley production. For my money, the libretto is better than "Nixon" and "Klinghoffer". The only things I miss are the great graffiti murals hung at the back of the stage."
Sean M. Kelly | Portland, Oregon United States | 04/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It took me several listens to gather the full effect of what Adams was trying to accomplish on this opera/musical. I'm not sure that this recording fully harnesses it all, but it is an excellent recording.As most people know, the recording is based on the 1994 major earthquake in California, and the structure of the recording reflects this, as movements 2-14 are meant as either solos or duets to reflect points of view. These pieces are sandwiched by ensemble numbers (part 1 and 15) that show off some of Adams' minimalist leanings but quickly switch over to pop and jazz sensibilities.At moments, it's difficult to follow the flow of the action, especially on those parts that have no dialogue to connect sections. I suppose that is a nit-pickey point, all in all, but it was a noticable flaw as i heard it.With Adams conducting, the cd shows off a different side of Adams. No, he's no Lloyd-Webber or Sondheim (thankfully) but the performance IS an interesting melding of opera and musical. While this concept, in my opinion, pales in comparison to his other operatic works, the work is a confident one, and is well worth listening to."