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on 28 August 2013
Since seeing the BBC4 programme concerning John Adams life and works, I have been listening to more of his recordings. His "Shaker Loops" CD got me going, but I kept recalling a haunting excerpt from his "Dharma at Big Sur" played (briefly) during the TV Programme. My local CD supplier had a long waiting list for this work which, apparently, is now out of stock with the Nonesuch supplier. So I turned to Amazon, and once again they did me proud. If I am correct I bought the last one they had in stock It's magic music if you have an open mind, and I love the gentle glissandos played by the electric (six string) violin. I played it again today. Magic.
Ian Platt
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on 9 April 2013
A piece for 6-string electric violin and orchestra, in which parts of that orchestra - the synthesizers, pianos, and harps - are tuned to just intonation, the "Dharma at Big Sur" is gorgeous and challenging. The piece also calls for a lot of pitch-bending from the soloist, which we traditionally associate with rock guitar and some traditional musics, rather than the Western classical tradition. The piece thus sounds exotic - the overall feeling is of something slightly otherworldly, slighty distant, even slightly cold. I love it.

"My Father Knew Charles Ives" plays with the soundscapes associated with Charlies Ives, the collages of sound, the fracturing, the tearing up and rubbing together of different tunes. After the craziness of the opening "Concord" comes contemplation at "The Lake". A trumpet solo opens the third movement, "The Mountain" with hints at the space and tonality of Ives' "Central Park in the Dark." "The Mountain" also plays with taking themes from other Adams works and playing these against each other and breaking them up. At the same time as being a fantastic homage to Ives, the piece is unmistakably Adams in its choice of instrumentation and timbres.

This is a great pairing, and though I share the sentiments of other reviewers here about spreading the music across two separate CDs, nonetheless, like them, I'm grateful to have these pieces at all.
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on 13 February 2010
First off it should be noted that whilst this album is spread over two CDs, it's total playing time is only 53:28. Why an album that would be short placed on one disc is spread over two I have no idea. Gimmick? An attempt to mislead people as to the playing time (significantly not indicated on outside jacket)? Obviously protecting the environment is not of concern to John Adams or Nonesuch.
On the other hand the music is very, very good. Both works are essentially tone poems dealing with landscapes. A wonderful balance between atmospherics and virtuosity is maintained throughout. The two soloists perform their very different roles with grace and a wonderful sense of time and place. The BBC Symphony Orchestra is ably led by the composer.
This is a fine album despite the decision to present it as two EPs rather than one album.
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on 31 May 2016
It's the Emperor's new clothes. Download did not work!!!!
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on 12 October 2016
Arrived as advertised, by the seller.
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on 23 December 2006
Those who know John Adams mainly for his cheerful melodies and humoristic details (think of the funny banjo tunes in "Gnarly Buttons") will be surprised by his more serious side while listening to his latest recording. The Darma at Big Sur (2003) is a reference to Big Sur, a region in the coast of California with high mountains and deep precipices. The piece is an attempt at expressing through music the overwhelming emotion one feels when setting foot for the first time on the west coast of America. This happened to a young Adams himself, when he fled to California from the oppressing musical institution where serial music was very much in the air. A six-string electric violin, played by Tracy Silverman, is the medium. The piece builds up beautifully, starts at a whistling quiet tone with a dazed violin that, as the piece progresses, very gradually finds its own strong voice. My Father Knew Charles Ives (2003) is an hommage to America's first great serious music composer, Charles Ives (died 1954). The piece starts out very dark, with sinister violins and dark trumpet sounds, then transforms into a bombastic march (march music had a great influence on Ives' music) to end at a sombre note. This cd confims that John Adams is probably the greatest composer of our time.
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