Search This Blog

Thursday, June 10, 2021

John Adams, Chamber Symphony, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose


Some albums become especially essential for the quality of the compositions, the performances and the wisdom of the repertoire choices. That is very true of a recent release by the Boston Modern Music Project under Gil Rose, John Adams' Chamber Symphony (BMOP 1078).

It includes for us the title work, the "Son of Chamber Symphony" (2007), and the earlier "Common Tones in Simple Time" (1979). In so doing it places the Chamber Symphony (1992) in a instructively relevant context, as part of the three drop-dead gorgeous, interrelated offerings that together provide a succinctly complete view of a multi-fold gesture and a wonderful listen.

It gets you from A to B very nicely. It covers Adam's very first orchestral work ("Common Tones") which sets out a processes based mesmeric field of Minimalist expression, conjuring a kind of dream of lived space. Adams then gives us via the Chamber Symphony a shift to rhythmic interplays of complexities and a kind of endless invention that goes beyond and brings up to date the sort of Neo-Classical realm sometimes occupied by Stravinsky. In the composer's words, "The weight and mass of a symphonic work [is] married to the transparency and mobility of the chamber work." In this way the music is irresistible and no doubt fiendishly challenging to the players at times.

The "Son of" follow-up clearly and most emphatically affirms the family ties implied in the title. The liners rightfully speak of a gradual movement away from Minimalism proper to a kind of Maximalist stance. "Son of" retains the rhythmic vitality of the first work, moving as the liners discuss away from chromatic tonal ambiguity to something more vernacular without committing per se to a locality of expression. It is the chamber orchestra equivalent of an interrelated set of tongue twisters, complexity that overlaps and doubles over upon itself continually. With the fast-slow-fast movement structure that in fact can vary in intensity and effectively so. It is a rather spectacular interplay of orchestral voices contrasting and affirming alternately for a remarkable experience.

The effective and intensively focused reading of these scores serves to present us with an ideal thumbnail portrait of orchestral Adams. 

Molto bravo!

No comments:

Post a Comment