Search This Blog

Thursday, October 23, 2014

John Luther Adams, Become Ocean

Something that won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014 you tend to handle with kid gloves. But then you must listen anyway and forget all about that. Such is the case with John Luther Adams' major orchestral work Beyond Ocean (Cantaloupe Music 21101 CD and DVD). The Seattle Symphony under Ludovic Morlot have the performance for us here, and they give us a very atmospheric reading that seems just right.

It is a sprawling work, a long, sustained representation of the primordial ocean. The ebb and flow of the music is like a series of waves in ultra slow motion. Very long, tonally chordal note combinations cluster and flow in the music. There is a central, slowly ascending motive in the strings that reappears from time to time. It is music that is ever-changing from within, yet somehow ever the same. There are arpeggiated figures on the piano, mallets, harp and other instruments that merge with the long tones and do not as a result stand out as minimalist in design. This is more akin to the sort of Radical Tonality that we have heard in many examples on Cold Blue records (do a search for those) only this is for a seemingly large orchestra and goes on for quite some time.

It is mystical, haunting, filled with epic sea-as-cosmos audio that will put you in a very different place.

The CD has great sound; the DVD gives you the 5:1 surround option and gently fades a series of beautiful sky-ocean images that repeat throughout the performance.

Description in words only takes you so far with this music. It really must be heard. It along with Markus Reuter's orchestral work (see review from last June) gives you a new spiritual opening if you will, an orchestral soundscaping that takes you away from rhythm and brings you instead to an endless canvas of solid and transparent color fields, a long unbending road through sheer and ravishing sound blocks.

Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment