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Adès: Living Toys CD

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Product details

  • Performer: Michael Neisemann, Andrew Clark
  • Orchestra: Ensemble, London Sinfonietta
  • Conductor: Markus Stenz, Stephen Cleobury
  • Composer: Thomas Adès
  • Audio CD (30 Mar. 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Début
  • ASIN: B000006OGT
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,706 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): I. Angels -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 2:16£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): II. Aurochs -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 2:28£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): Balett -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz0:57£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): III Militiamen -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 1:53£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): IV. H.A.L.'s Death -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 3:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): Battle -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 2:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): V. Playing Funerals -London Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 3:58£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Living Toys, Op.9 (1993): TabletLondon Sinfonietta/Markus Stenz 1:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): I. Venezia notturnaEndellion String Quartet 2:47£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): II. Das klinget so herrlich, das Iklinget so schönEndellion String Quartet 1:30£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): III. Auf dem Wasser zu singenEndellion String Quartet 2:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): IV. Et....(tango mortale)Endellion String Quartet 4:13£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): V. L'Embarquement -Endellion String Quartet 2:27£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): VI. O AlbionEndellion String Quartet 3:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Arcadiana, Op.12 (1994): VII. LetheEndellion String Quartet 2:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Sonata da Caccia, Op.11 (1993): I. Gravement -Michael Niesemann/Andrew Clark/Thomas Adès 3:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Sonata da Caccia, Op.11 (1993): II. Gayëment -Michael Niesemann/Andrew Clark/Thomas Adès 3:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Sonata da Caccia, Op.11 (1993): III. NaïvementMichael Niesemann/Andrew Clark/Thomas Adès 4:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Sonata da Caccia, Op.11 (1993): IV. GalamentMichael Niesemann/Andrew Clark/Thomas Adès 1:34£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen20. The Origin of the Harp, Op.13 (1994): I. Dolcissimo ed espressivoLynsey Marsh/Barnaby Robson/Paul Richards/Judith Busbridge/Susan Knight/James Boyd/Louise Hopkins/Paul Watkins/Jonathan Tunnell/Richard Benjafield/Thomas Adès 2:13£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen21. The Origin of the Harp, Op.13 (1994): II. Largo con motoLynsey Marsh/Barnaby Robson/Paul Richards/Judith Busbridge/Susan Knight/James Boyd/Louise Hopkins/Paul Watkins/Jonathan Tunnell/Richard Benjafield/Thomas Adès 2:05£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen22. The Origin of the Harp, Op.13 (1994): III. SpettraleLynsey Marsh/Barnaby Robson/Paul Richards/Judith Busbridge/Susan Knight/James Boyd/Louise Hopkins/Paul Watkins/Jonathan Tunnell/Richard Benjafield/Thomas Adès 2:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen23. The Origin of the Harp, Op.13 (1994): IV. [untitled]Lynsey Marsh/Barnaby Robson/Paul Richards/Judith Busbridge/Susan Knight/James Boyd/Louise Hopkins/Paul Watkins/Jonathan Tunnell/Richard Benjafield/Thomas Adès 2:28£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen24. Gefriolsae me, Op.3b (1990)Choir Of King's College, Cambridge/Robert Quinney/Stephen Cleobury 3:49£0.99  Buy MP3 

Customer Reviews

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Nov. 1999
Format: Audio CD
This outstanding disc is EMI's second of music by Ades, and creditably it is also issued at budget price - a real bargain for listeners new to this music. Living Toys is a tour de force: it's hard not to be bowled over by the sheer excitement and verve of its opening, and enthralled by the wealth of invention and intimate expression thereafter. As the excellent programme notes point out, this is young man's music (the composer was a precocious 22 when the work was first performed by the London Sinfonietta), but crucially Ades never gets carried away in his inventive exuberance. This goes even for the extended piccolo trumpet solo, surely one of the most formidable in the repertoire. I was particularly impressed with the maturity of the work's almost narrative structure (based on a fragment of Spanish folklore) and the instrumentation of the work's quieter moments is often touching and novel. The London Sinfonietta under Stenz play beautifully and often virtuosically; and the trumpet playing...!
Of the other works on the disc, the string quartet Arcadiana (played sinuously by the Endellion Quartet) has received most attention, though I must admit unease at the range of styles it encompasses. My reservations aside, it's self-evidently accomplished music, and there are moments of real beauty - witness the stratospheric violin harmonics in the middle section.
The Origin of the Harp, a shortish ensemble piece, is a good example of Ades's exploitation of unusual ensembles; and the Sonata da Caccia, for harpsichord, baroque oboe and natural horn, is a light but witty tribute to his beloved Couperin - but with contemporary touches (do I detect the influence of Gyorgy Ligeti?) The shortest piece on this disc is the anthem Gefriolsae Me: a minor student work, but it still puts most recent church music in the shade.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By on 29 Jan. 2000
Format: Audio CD
There is not much more to add...this is surely his finest moment. Can he sustain it is the question? The EMI marketing must help, but how long will it last? This is perhaps the best buy of the year. For me 'Gefriolsae Me' is the most telling track on this disc. It is early Adès and yet the best. Even without the tangos or blues it is still hard hitting. Fantastic. Buy now!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Simon Mack - uk creative on 24 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Despite the early hype :still underwhelming.. 3 out of 5 stars

After reviewing another Ades early EMI release "Asyla" a few months ago - I thought it was high time (ok ten years on..) I finally bought Living Toys the 2nd cd release as part of this young UK composer's 7 disc contract with EMI. the works here were composed between 1990-94.

"Living Toys" composed in 1993 for the London Sinfonietta is certainly exuberant, clever,multi-layered work that references a bit of this a bit of that : jazz,off kilter time signatures,in fact a whole gamut of late 20thC composer maximalist gestures - perhaps a little like John Adam's chamber symphony + also similar to Ades own Asyla orchestral work. Clever but ultimately for me hollow.

Ades only string quartet "Arcadia" remains for me the stand out work here with its subdued, sparse textures + restrained mostly classical writing, reminiscent of Britten, Ligeti or Gubaidulina's quartets. Not as strong an individual voice from Ades however. Evocative, if hardly startling but promising all the same.

"Sonata da Caccia" + "The Origin of the Harp"are both curious works for small ensemble + are neo-baroque works that deliberately evoke 18th C composer Couperin in a way that doesn't really strike a strong emotional chord. Rather like Stravinsky's neo-classical works such as his violin concerto or duo concertante .Ades here is certainly pressingly clear in texture + design away from the more is more late modernist school of Carter, Boulex at least, yet lacking impact or innovative own voice.

Final work "Gefriolsae Me"for Choir is again another retrograde short piece that may well continue the tradtion of choral writing but seems to offer little genuine new directions or strong impact.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
craft alone isn't enough 30 July 2001
By K. Doles - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I truly feel strange writing this review, as it is the most negative one I have yet contributed for any composer. I first heard the name of Thomas Ades about four years ago, when a fellow composer told me that he was, and I quote, "the greatest British composer since Britten." Needless to say, my expectations were rather high when I first purchased this recording to try and acquaint myself with his music. I must say that his grasp of the CRAFT of musical composition is astounding for his age (which isn't too far from my own, to give us some perspective). Craft without original ideas, however, is useless. To me, Ades sounds like any number of a long line of British composers living in the long shadow of Harrison Birtwistle. What we get here is the standard line...complex and obtuse, without any real direction. "The Origin of the Harp" is the only work that prevents me from rating this disc even lower, as it has several enchanting moments , but not enough to save this album. His operatic works ARE better than the music presented here, without a doubt, but I am afraid that the hype surrounding Ades's work this early in his career could invariably stunt his compositional growth later in life. Though what I have heard to this point has been disappointing, I still expect great things from Thomas Ades in the future.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Adventurous, appealing music 8 Dec. 1999
By Peter Shultz - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Adès has been hailed as everything from "the new Mozart" to "the next Britten", and criticised just as enthusiastically for his perceived arrogance (the New York Times referred to his "spoiled-brat behavior"), but his music speaks for itself. In the chamber pieces featured here, he experiments further with his trademark sonorites, as established in his earlier pieces: shining harmonics on string instruments, pattering rhythmic counterpoint in the percussion, mercurial flourishes in the high-register woodwinds, and irritable growls in the low voices. His experiments with form are just as remarkable -- even as he constantly refers to well-known musical tropes of this century and others, he is constantly analysing and reinterpreting what has come before him. This is mature, self-aware music, from a young master. Beyond the orchestrational and formal aspects, though, is the profound emotionality of Adès' music. If this is your first experience with Adès, be warned: his music is not for everybody, and some of the dissonances can be quite appalling to the unprepared listener, as was suggested by earlier reviewers. That said, it's actually pretty accessible and can be appreciated by people with different levels of musical training. All that is needed is curiosity and an open mind. Wholeheartedly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A perfect introduction to the music of Thomas Adès 19 Mar. 2010
By Discophage - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I can think of no other composer in the history of recorded music that has enjoyed such a staunch backup from a record label as Thomas Adès with EMI. With the release of EMI's 8th instalment (Tevot, Violin Concerto, Couperin Dances, Tevot Violin Concerto: Couperin Dances), Adès' near complete output, from his opus 1 from 1990 (there is even a pre-opus 1 song cycle from a year before) to his recent Tevot for Orchestra (2007) is available. Missing are only the orchestral suite and Three Studies derived from his opera The Tempest (but the opera is available, Thomas Adès: The Tempest), and his two most recent compositions: "In Seven Days" (2008) and "Lieux Retrouvés" for Cello and Piano (2009). Not even Stravinsky (with Columbia) and Britten (with Decca) ever received such a treatment: they were picked up much later in their respective compositional career (Stravinsky was already in his fifties), and the labels left a few gaps, major ones with Britten (like his opera Gloriana), insignificant ones with Stravinsky. There tends these days to be an hostile attitude from the music-loving public towards the great labels, seen as managed by purely profit-oriented executives with no knowledge in nor interest for the music and the artists (not always untrue), but here, warm praise to EMI.

This CD was the second in the cycle to be released (in 1998), on the same "Debut" collection as the first one (Ades: Catch/Darknesse Visible/Still Sorrowing/Under Hamelin Hill/Five Eliot Landscapes/Traced OVerhead/Life Story). More than its companion disc (much slanted towards piano compositions and thus not giving an entirely rounded view of the composer), it is a good place to start an exploration of Adès. The compositions featured therein are significant, and great. "Living Toys" op. 9 was composed for the London Sinfonietta in 1993. It displays all the hallmarks of Adès: brilliant sonic imagination, drawing on all the inventions and advances of 20th Century music, but never dry, intractable or forbidding, on the contrary always appealingly ear-catching in its wealth of sonic events and its brilliant instrumental invention - and not least in the brilliant references to Bullfight trumpet music (the piece's inspiration is vaguely Spanish, about a Spanish kid's dreams of fights and glory, leaving the men feeling "that their lives were less substantial than the dreams that surrounded him like toys"), turned free-jazzy over snare-drum in the 4th section "Militiamen", or in the hushed, dirge-like glissandos of the 5th section, "H.A.L.'s death", or again in the despaired orchestral shouts that conclude the piece. The same lush and shimmering sonic invention is at play in "The Origin of the Harp" op. 13 (1994), written for the unusual ensemble of three clarinets, three violas, three cellos and percussion.

As with other pieces of Adès, he sounds in his String Quartet, Arcadiana op. 12 (1994) like the true heir of Britten, taking his point of departure where Britten arrived with his second and third String Quartets, with hushed, mysterious and subtle utterances, not eschewing the highly lyrical Romantic gestures either. In its use of very high-registers, the non-Western melodic invention of Korean Isang Yun also comes to mind. At 23, Adès is already a master at referring to old forms without the feeling of quaintness they acquire at the hands of many contemporary composers, and without giving the impression that they are alien material forced into a composition with which they share no stylistic kinship. The 5th movement (track 13) is a quasi-Waltz and Adès succeeds in referring to the Tango (in the 4th movement, track 12, "Et... tango mortale") while distorting the form almost beyond recognition - but just almost, staying brilliantly "on the cusp". The finale, with its enigmatic touches of hushed colors, is close in inspiration to the kind of "minimalistic" music written by composers such as Lachenmann, Sciarrino or Gérard Pesson - but more melodically appealing and fascinating. The subtle, shimmering filigree of Ravel's Poèmes de Mallarmé also came to mind.

The short and brooding a capella chorus Gefriolsae Me, op. 3b (1990), on a Middle English rendering of Psalm 51, is the one out of five that comprise Adès' complete output to date for the medium, the four others being on an EMI portrait published after this one, Thomas Adès: America: A Prophecy. The Britten reminiscence again comes to mind, especially in its harmonies that give the impression of being obvious while still exploring unexpected and inventive avenues.

Sonata di Caccia op. 11 for baroque oboe, horn and harpsichord (1993) is the piece that I find least convincing here. It is meant has an homage both to Couperin and to Debussy, as the instrumental combination is the one planned by Debussy for what was to be his fourth Sonata (after the Celllo-piano, Violin-Piano and Flute-Viola-Harp), which he didn't live long enough to compose, or rather, in Adès' words, an homage of Couperin to Debussy in the manner of his "Apothéose de Lulli" or "Apothéose de Corelli". But what I hear in it is rather "Couperin meets Ligeti", Adès' homage to the baroque trio-Sonata, with clashes that I don't find very convincing between melodic turns typical of the French baroque and spurts and belches from the horn that seem straight out of Ligeti's Horn trio.

Nonetheless, this as good an introduction to the music of Thomas Adès as any - and it is brilliant music.

The other Adès/EMI instalments are Adès - Powder Her Face / Gomez, V. Anderson, N. Morris, Bryson, Almeida Ensemble, Adès, Ades: Asyla, These Premises Are Alarmed, etc. / Rattle, et al (there is a second entry, Ades: Asyla) and Adès: Piano Quintet; Schubert: "Trout Quintet".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Early Hints of a Developing Genius 22 Feb. 2006
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Thomas Adès is currently artist in residence with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in that role he is serving as conductor of his own compositions as well as works by other composers, as performer (solo piano and chamber music) and as a beam of bright light that is a welcome new voice in contemporary music. As is appropriate for artists in residence, Adès offered early compositions as well as his most recent works.

This recording may not be wholly successful in displaying the potential Adès is now realizing, but it is in listening carefully to works such as 'The Origin of the Harp' on this recording that suggests the enormous capacity for exploration of colors and moods that suffuse his works. Despite the title the work does not use the harp as an instrument, but rather refers of the impact of a painting by Maclise which depicts the Celtic legend of a water nymph who falls in love with a mortal and who in order to join him on land is transformed into a harp. It is this metamorphosis that Adès captures in this work for three celli, three clarinets, three violas and an extensive battery of percussion. The writing is daring, mystical, and the instrumentation allows Adès to successfully suggest the metamorphosis from water to solidity in the most sensual manner.

The 'Arcadiana, for string quartet' is suggestive of quotations from other composers but in a language Adès' own. The other works on this CD while not as interesting still give notice of a mind unafraid of challenge and wholly capable of the gamut of emotion one hopes will continue to find presence in his works. For collectors interested in following the career path of a very important composer, this recording is highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 06
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Genius at work 2 Mar. 2002
By kamus - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Brilliant, challenging, intellectually self indulgent on occasion, experimental, ravishingly beautiful at times as in the string quartet and the choral piece; innovative, fresh, assured and completely astonishing from one so young. It's very hard to determine where Ades is ultimately heading, musically speaking, but these works written on the way to that destination stand on their own as fascinating examples of a truly creative imagination. Although I enjoyed "Living Toys" it was my least favorite piece. [update: after many rehearings, it has become a favorite-this underscores the necessity of gving complex music such as Ades' more than a perfunctory single listen] The aforementioned Quartet and Choral pieces were the standout. "Origin" was interesting for the wonderful sonorities and textures conjured up from a truly odd ensemble and the "Sonata" made me laugh out loud with it's fun-house mirror view of Baroque music. Highly recommended to the open minded.
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