Adams: Absolute Jest & Grand Pianola Music
John Adams, San Francisco Symphony & Michael Tilson Thomas
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Echoes of Beethoven can be heard and felt throughout these bold works from the American minimalist icon. Commissioned by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, Absolute Jest finds Adams expanding on the monumental energy and feeling of the legendary German composer’s ideas, with thrilling riffs on some of his most recognizable work. Also included is a haunting performance of Adams’ landmark Grand Pianola Music, a similarly inventive piece that approaches the emotional majesty of Beethoven with glowing arrangements that include gospel piano, brass band marches, and more.
I was waiting for this one...the discussion about "fragments of Beethoven" made me nervous. I was expecting some kind of ill-conceived homage or mashup like the weirdo Radio Rewrite or ReComposed Four Seasons projects.
This however is 95% Adams and clearly he's doing what we all do in taking bits of great music and messing with it in our minds. But most people aren't as good a composer or craftsman as Adams is. Great stuff...surprised. One of his strongest recent efforts.
Yes! This is s good one!!!
I didn't get to see the world premiere of John Adams' "Absolute Jest" in San Fransisco in 2012, but I did see the performance of this piece a few days later at Carnegie Hall, Which I'd like to think is close enough. I'm so glad this release has come out. "Absolute Jest" is not only one of John's best works, it also has a vitality, a groove and a spirit that is intoxicating. With all the hard work and intellect that it took to compose, this work makes a visceral impact on any listener who hears it. And that is the whole point of music making! Well done MTT and SFS!
Not too bad
I have misgivings anythime composers borrow or attempt to rewrite music from the past. Absolute Jest isn't a complete faliure, it gets the job done in a non offending way. Adams has always been hit or miss with me now that he's officially shirked off the minimallist tendicies of the past. This was written to be a crowd pleaser, and as such doesn't challenge the players or listener all that much. MTT et all play it well enough to warrent at least one listening. -Bz
Born: February 15, 1947 in Worcester, MA
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s