Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller


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The final item on the disc has its origins in one of Adams' earliest compositions, Wavemaker, written in the mid-1970s, at the height of minimalism, for string quartet. Here, the work is given its 1983 incarnation for string orchestra, Shaker Loops. The loops in question are tape loops with which Steve Reich was experimenting; in his live piece Adams uses small fragments of melody which loop back on themselves. The Shaker influence is something of a pun, Adams tries to imagine what a Shaker ceremony would be like with the normally stern folk shaking themselves loose of convention in religious ecstasy. But he also interprets the shaking in musical terms using tremolos and trills, which can themselves be described as shakes.

Here we retrieve something of the sound world from Short Ride in a Fast Machine, but Adams varies the diet with excitingly driven rhythms mixed with more relaxed movements, including some rather Sibelian moments [listen -- track 4, 0:00-1:10].

Alsop has a clear feel for this music and whilst the performances from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are not always technically the most sophisticated, they convey the music's freshness and excitement. The disc is not really the library choice for these works, after all Adams has himself recorded much of this repertoire. But at budget price the recording provides a welcome introduction to Adams' music.

Copyright © 27 March 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK


Adams: Shaker Loops; The Wound-Dresser

8.559031 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 58'20" 2004 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Nathan Gunn, baritone (The Wound-Dresser); Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop, conductor

John Adams (born 1947): Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986); The Wound-Dresser (1988); Berceuse élégiaque (1991); Shaker Loops (1978 rev 1983) (Shaking and Trembling; Hymning Slews; Loops and Verses; A Final Shaking)


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