John Adams' status as the premier living American composer is well-earned: he manages somehow to fuse an awareness of the time he is writing for and a real artistic integrity with the ability to write music of incredibly broad appeal . This CD provides a fantastic introduction to his work, performed with zeal , intensity and accuracy by a top-notch ensemble, with a first-rate conductor, in a world-beating concert hall. What more could you want?
The focal point of the disc is undoubtably Adams' masterpiece 'Harmonielehre', which fuses Minimalism's sense of drive and energy with the lush harmonies and langorous melodic lines of late Romanticism (hence the title, taken from a textbook on late Romantic harmony by none other than Arnold Schoenberg) - its jaw-dropping first chords provide one of the most arresting openings in contemporary music. Nonetheless, there is a well-chosen selection of other works by Adams on the disc too, which showcase the range and variety of his output. 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine', in particular, is a great little example of saying a lot in a very short time (the very opposite of what minimalism is often accused of). Overall, an excellent buy.