Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Adams has been gathering increasing audiences since his earliest works which were applauded more because of their originality than because of their innate musicality. Early works like 'Shaker Loops' led to the Opera 'Nixon in China' and while that opera drew large appreciative audiences because of the topic, it still was up to Adams to prove himself a durable, growing composer of lasting classical music. In this remarkable recording of NAIVE AND SENTIMENTAL MUSIC, commissioned by the orchestra and conductor who perform it here (Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Phil), we finally have a symphonic work that stands very tall as pure music. No need for a chorus or vocal soloists( as in the magnificent 'Harmonium' based on the poetry of Emily Dickenson, or 'El Nino', his oratorio for the Christmas season or 'The Wound Dresser' which is perhaps the most brilliant setting of Walt Whitman ever conceived): this is simply grand orchestral work. The opening measures draw us into the cradling effect of folk tunes, but that effect blossoms into a complex and colorful flight of fancy. The second movement is an elegy of quiet beauty and the last movement restates some of Adams earlier writing motifs but gradually binds these together into a electrifying explosion of blatantly romantic sound. Salonen and the LA Phil play this score as if to the music born - which in this case is reality! Excellent sonics and depth of range on the recording make the entire experience of getting to know this masterpiece a complete joy."
Why am I reminded of Jarmush's Dead Man atmosphere ?
jos | Europe | 02/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I guess I might be alone in my perception of John Adams' Naive and Sentimental music, but I shall say more about that later.I heard this extraordinary music on the radio (only some 4 minutes of the first part's middle section) and I was instantly hooked. I searched the radio station's website the next day to discover what they were playing and I discovered an artist I never heard of before, but who is actually a very important figure in contemporary classical music as I learned soon. When I got the CD I discovered a whole new musical world, somewhere between tonal romanticism, minimalistic "repetitive" building layers of music and "atonal" (I don't belive there is such thing)contemporary composition.
Postmodern modernism could be the word. So, back to the title of this review. The massive, "alienated" music, that reminds at times of "american" film-score classics, with strong dark tones, powerful outbursts of energy and sparkling, floating parts of music with "elvish" (since we're in the age of Lord of the Rings histeria - which I approve somehow)
undernotes. So, what is the artist trying to say? He moved me to some other state of counciousness and inspired visual worlds coherent with the design of the CD, which somehow transport me to some endless, dreamy "Americana" dream(land)scape similar to Jarmush's Dead Man movie setting and atmosphere.Great work by Esa Pekka Salonen and LA Philly.I wish Adams would venture even further into those "twilight" realms and maybe abandon the "layering principle" in favour of more rhytmically and sylistically diverse principles as exemplified by Stravinsky and other greats of symphonic invention. But I deeply admire his melodic invention and orchestration ideas. Go beyond, if you read this Mr.Adams."
Daniel Johnson | 08/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the finest orchestral writing of John Adams' career. I have to agree with the newspaper critic who commented that while there are no real departures here from the familiar Adams voice (as heard in Harmonielehre, Nixon in China, the Violin Concerto, etc.), all of the expected tricks of melody, rhythm, harmony, and orchestration are delivered with an unprecedented mastery and assuredness, and on a grand new scale.The performance is perfect as well. Salonen brings out the sharp, modern edges of the piece without sacrificing grace, subtlety, or tenderness of feeling. I know this must seem over-the-top, but I think I can recommend this recording to anyone interested in the symphony orchestra, without reservation."
A beautiful work spectacularly performed
Jeff Abell | Chicago, IL USA | 09/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, John Adams! I've been tracking this dude's work since I lived in Berkeley in the mid-70s, and it really hasn't let me down yet. I heard Adams conduct this piece with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra a couple of years ago, and it was like sitting in front of a 747 taking off! The first and last movements are filled with intense, complex patterns and textures that change kaleidoscopically, while the middle movement is gentle, featuring a loping electric guitar solo. Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Phil give this a phenomenally tight reading that renders all the complex textures in high relief. I felt I understood the piece better from this recording than from hearing it live. Elegant packaging from Nonesuch, and an insightful essay by Ingram Marshall add to the pleasure of this recording."
PeterLagersted | Zürich | 06/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Reading this bunch of intelligent reviews for John Adam's work is a great experience. No one seems to be bored by this score and the music intonates lots of different feelings.
Personally I find this music a masterpiece. Not because of all the obvious skill displayed from composer and performers alike. Nor because (as most agree) the orchestration is perfect.
What I think the core of this artistic achievement is John Adams ability capture the Zeitgeist of 1999. It is as if the optimism, all the hype and drive of the 1990s found its way into his score. This is very much music for a certain place at a certain point in history.
Adams also turns this upside down when melancholy and irony takes over in the last movement. There is a ambivalence at play not heard in many film scores (nor in most music at all). The analogy with Mahler is obvious - a classical composers takes the simple and perhaps sentimental pop idiom then turns it into monument of his time. John Adams is - I think - the better composer, but the fate of his music (and its critics) will be very similar indeed. "