Friday, 12 October 2018

John Adams - Road Movies (2004)

Some of the most sublime minimalist piano music ever written, in one handy package that spans 24 years of John Adams' composing career.  That timespan makes for a collection in which familiar, widely-interpreted pieces sit alongside two that made their recording debut here, but it all feels nicely consistent and album-like.

The three-part title piece, from 1995, adds violin to the piano for a nice 15-minute road trip that rolls along rural highways at first, takes a slower look at the landscape then kicks up into an even higher gear.  The "40% Swing" subtitle of Part III comes from a MIDI sequencer setting that Adams found akin to ragtime or Benny Goodman-esque jazz.

After that, everything is pure piano, starting with Hallelujah Junction (1996) for two pianos.  The first two parts might now for some be indelibly associated with Luca Guadagnino's magnificent adaptation of Call Me By Your Name (and certainly, that was my introduction to the piece, buying this album soon after), but Adams' original inspiration was the name of a truckstop on the California-Nevada border.  Whatever it evokes, from the joyful bell-like opening onwards, it's a thing of pure loveliness, even with a bit of a knotty ending.  That hectic finale is taken even further in American Berserk (2001).  What remains is a fresh look at the legendary "Gates" from 1977, both China and Phrygian, both clearly and expertly rendered by Nicholas Hodges and Rolf Hind, and sounding as spectacular as ever.

mega / zippy

previously posted at SGTG: Shaker Loops

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! I'm big on John Adams, Nixon in China is great. Looking forward to this, too!