Harmonielehre, which premiered in 1985 with the San Francisco Symphony under Edo de Waart, is John Adams' break-out opus that made the classical world take notice. No longer lumped as a minimalist, long past his tape experiments, Adams wrote a majestic, powerful, complex composition. He had labored long in frustration searching for a novel work, but a dream (of a powerful tanker in San Francisco Bay suddenly taking off into the air) awakened a chordal idea that brought everything rapidly in order. I have heard performances of this work three times by the SF Symphony, once under the baton of Adams himself, and it never fails to plunge into my marrow. The old first issue of the work can hardly approach the new engineering standards of this high technological, surround sound SACD/CD. The live recording sparkles by its clariity, dynamic range, symphonic separation, and presence, from the hushed pianissimo to brass blasts, from the deep bass of the string basses to stratospheric piccolo, celesta, triangle, and bells. The performance in this album is outstanding, as good or better than I have experienced years before. The elegant, beautiful gravitas of Harmonielehre is shed for the encore fanfare, Short Ride in A Fast Machine, which was released in 1987 on The Chairman Dances album. Tilson Thomas takes it a minute longer, and on this recording it is a sonic adventure. This excellent album is a perfect match for Adam's excellent, exciting, ever fresh symphonic showpieces.