SACDs

John Adams (b.1947)

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Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride in a Fast Machine


Adams, J:

Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Harmonielehre


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony release two works by John Adams: Harmonielehre which was commissioned, premiered and recorded by SFS in 1985; and Short Ride in a Fast Machine, commissioned by Tilson Thomas prior to his becoming Music Director of SFS in 1995.

Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) release the latest in their award-winning catalogue of recordings with two works by John Adams, a composer indelibly associated with the orchestra: Harmonielehre, one of the composer's earliest orchestral works which was commissioned, premiered and recorded by SFS in 1985; and Short Ride in a Fast Machine, commissioned by MTT prior to his becoming Music Director of SFS in 1995. In keeping with the high-end quality of the MTT-SFS releases on their own SFS Media label, this recording is released in the Hybrid SACD format.

Harmonielehre is one of Adams’ early bold statements, blending elements of classical, jazz, rock and minimalism, and American and European influences. MTT, who conducted the work during his first season as SFS Music Director in 1995 and multiple times since, said of the work, “When a new piece is premiered, it can make a stunning impression. But the real story of that piece is what emerges over time. When the SFS first performed Harmonielehre in the mid-80s it was a life changing moment for everybody who heard it… now, decades later, the piece still stands up.”

Of Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Adams recalls, “For some reason a connection with Cape Cod came to mind. Years before [the commission] I had been there with a former brother in-law and he had asked me at about 1 in the morning if I would like to take a ride with him in his Lamborghini. I did and once he started up I wished I hadn’t because he drove very, very fast. The idea of a piece that had that combination of excitement and thrill and was just on the edge of anxiety or terror was the motivating force.”

This release joins the highly-acclaimed, best-selling MTT-SFS catalogue, which includes their outstanding cycle of Mahler’s orchestral works and songs, the Keeping Score series of DVDs and Blu-Rays, and more recent releases of works by Beethoven, Copland and Ives.

“This new recording captures its unbridled potency, from the monochord fanfare through the enigmatic yearning reminiscent of Herrmann's Vertigo, to the resolution of the insistent strings and woodwind.” The Independent, 15th March 2012 ****

“Adams has a closer relationship with the San Francisco Symphony than any other orchestra, so it’s fitting that Michael Tilson Thomas’s band should release superb recordings of two of Adams’s finest orchestral pieces to mark its centenary...Performances are supremely clear, cogent and virtuosic.” The Times, 24th March 2012 ****

“[Harmonielehre] requires a very safe pair of conductor's hands to smooth out its eclectic fissures. Michael Tilson Thomas is about as safe as one could wish for...both live recordings serve to reinforce Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony's status as true champions of Adam's orchestral music.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012

“More than in previous recordings, Michael Tilson Thomas's superbly paced approach conveys the music's sense of vast surrounding spaces, and the momentum of the biggest passages is the more thrilling for being cannily unrushed.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2012 ****

“These are masterly live performances played with intensity and radiant with character. The recording is first class, vividly clear and excellently balanced.” MusicWeb International, June 2012

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

SFS Media - SFS0053

(SACD)

$17.75

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

John Adams: Absolute Jest

John Adams: Absolute Jest


Adams, J:

Grand Pianola Music

Absolute Jest

world premiere recording


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony offer the world-premiere recording of John Adams’ Absolute Jest, commissioned by the orchestra, alongside the composer’s Grand Pianola Music, another SFS commission from 30 years earlier, conducted here by the composer. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony join forces with America’s most-performed living composer, John Adams, in a colossal album featuring Adams’s Absolute Jest and Grand Pianola Music. Hear Adams’s inspired and witty take on Beethoven’s spirited scherzos in this first-ever recording of his SFS- commissioned Absolute Jest. Also featured is Grand Pianola Music, with its tongue-in-cheek allusions to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, written for and premiered by the SFS. Both works speak to the deeply personal and vital relationship of some of the top musicians of our time: John Adams, MTT, and the SFS.

“Adams’s Grand Pianola Music succeeds in its referencing of Beethoven’s cascading arpeggios, but the Absolute Jest is limited by the shards of scherzos...As this new, superb live recording, with Orli Shaham and Marc-André Hamelin as the two swashbuckling pianists shows, Grand Pianola Music...was a manifesto, a statement of intent.” The Guardian, 29th July 2015 ****

“a fantastic performance by all concerned, not least the wordless female vocal trio that Adams employs, and a terrifingly high but immaculately performed tuba solo in the slow movement. A great disc, then, for all Adams fans!” Presto Classical, 14th August 2015

“there’s no disputing its brilliance and audacity. Absolute Jest (2012) is an energetic concerto for string quartet (the St Lawrence) and orchestra, a hyper-scherzo whose ingeniously developed themes are lifted from Beethoven and performed here with glittering swagger.” Sunday Times, 16th August 2015

“[Grand Pianola Music] is an exuberant, larger-than-life freefall through musical history, the off-the-leash arpeggios typical of Beethoven's late piano sonatas bumping into Liszt then, controversially, ending up glittering like Liberace's candelabra…Absolute Jest is…an entertaining diversion and the San Francisco SO respond winningly to Adams's tailor-made if, at times, disappointingly generic orchestration.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“Here is wit, rough passion, gravity and playfulness...the dialogue between the St Lawrence String Quartet and the San Francisco Orchestra is brilliantly cogent and clear. Absolute Jest is a bravura experiment that will delight Adams's champions and appall his detractors.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2015 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

14th August 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

SFS Media - SFS0063

(SACD)

$17.75

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

John Adams: Harmonielehre

John Adams: Harmonielehre


Adams, J:

Harmonielehre

Doctor Atomic Symphony

Short Ride in a Fast Machine


In this new release Peter Oundjian and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra tackle two seminal works by the American composer John Adams. Harmonielehre, a symphony in all but name, is an expansive, richly expressive, and often breathtaking work. It takes its title from a 1911 text by Arnold Schoenberg on harmonic theory and evokes the lush soundworld of that composer’s early tonal period. Also heard throughout the score are echoes of Mahler, Wagner, Strauss, Sibelius, Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky. The piece also takes inspiration from some of Adams’s own strange and surreal dreams. The Doctor Atomic Symphony, based on Adams’s controversial opera Doctor Atomic, focuses on the character of the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer as preparations are made for the first test of the atomic bomb.

Although played without a break, the symphony falls into three distinct sections: ‘The Laboratory’, ‘Panic’, and ‘Trinity’. The symphony’s concluding section takes its title from the name given to the bomb test site by Oppenheimer himself, with reference to a deeply spiritual John Donne sonnet. This poem is set to music at the end of Act I of the opera and here in the symphony the aria’s intense vocal line is performed by solo trumpet. Also featured on the disc is John Adams’s energetic fanfare Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

“The music is played with huge élan by the RSNO...The results are highly charged and exciting performances of three works that place Adams at the very forefront of American contemporary classical music and deservedly so.” MusicWeb International, 18th December 2013

“the RSNO under Peter Oundjian manage very effectively to project this single sweep of sound from beginning to end. Brass and percussion stand out for all the right reasons...but it's really a sense of collective unity imparted by the orchestra during the loud sections that is most impressive.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - CHSA5129

(SACD)

$13.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Music for a Time of War

Music for a Time of War


Adams, J:

The Wound-Dresser

Sanford Sylvan (baritone), Jun Iawsaki (violin)

Britten:

Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20

Ives, C:

The Unanswered Question

Jeffrey Work (trumpet)

Vaughan Williams:

Symphony No. 4 in F minor


Oregon Symphony, Carlos Kalmar

This album features the programme performed by the Oregon Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of its Carnegie Hall debut. It was a triumphant occasion and was the highlight of the Spring of Music Festival at Carnegie Hall. The New Yorker reported the concert as “one of the most gripping events of the season.”

“Music for a Time of War is a compelling and inspired example of intelligent programme planning, and it’s extremely well played by the Oregon Symphony conducted by Carlos Kalmar… The live recorded sound is exceptionally vibrant.” International Record Review, February 2012

“The Unanswered Question is given a refined and cultivated reading...Sylvan is a most eloquent soloist...Kalmar’s interpretation [of the Vaughan Williams] is probing. He controls the stretches of quiet music very well while the climaxes have strength.” MusicWeb International, July 2012

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Pentatone - PTC5186393

(SACD)

$13.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Transmigration

Transmigration


Adams, J:

On The Transmigration of Souls

Barber:

Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Agnus Dei

Corigliano, J:

Elegy

Higdon:

Dooryard Bloom

World Premiere Recording


Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano

This new recording by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano bears the title “Transmigration”, and is a collection of hymns and requiems for those we wish to honour and remember.

The featured pieces are Samuel Barber’s universal expressions of loss, “Adagio for Strings” and the vocal transcription “Agnus Dei”, John Corigliano’s “Elegy” to lost youth, Jennifer Higdon’s setting of poetry about Abraham Lincoln, “Dooryard Bloom”, and John Adams’s reflection of personal grief for the victims of the World Trade Centre tragedy on September 11, 2001, “On the Transmigration of Souls”. The ASO is joined on this piece by the Gwinnett Young singers and the soloist in “Dooryard Bloom” is the baritone Nmon Ford.

Robert Spano is recognised internationally as one of the brightest and most imaginative conductors of his generation. His achievements include a 2005 Grammy Award (“Best Choral Album”) for Berlioz’s Requiem and two 2003 Grammy Awards (“Best Classical Album” and “Best Choral Album”) for Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony.

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Telarc - SACD60673

(SACD)

$16.00

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

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