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John Adams: Shaker Loops, Light Over Water

John Adams & Ridge String Quartet

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Album Review

An early work by Massachusetts-born, California-based minimalist composer John Adams, Light Over Water is a ballet score in three movements written in 1983 for a collaborative work, Available Light, done with choreographer Lucinda Childs and set designer Frank Gehry at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art. Perhaps because of its intended use as part of a larger, collaborative work, Light Over Water feels like a minor piece when listened to on its own. Scored for seven brass instruments (two trumpets, two French horns, two trombones, and tuba) and Adams' own synthesizers, "Light Over Water" is a straightforward additive piece of simple musical phrases repeating and building, then slowly receding. While not as intriguing as other early Adams pieces like 1979's "Shaker Loops" or as complex as his operas Nixon in China or The Death of Klinghoffer, Light Over Water is still an enjoyable, accessible piece with some excellent unison brass scoring.

Biography

Born: February 15, 1947 in Worcester, MA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

New England-born, California-based composer John Adams is a pivotal figure in 20th century classical music, as he can be viewed as either the last of the minimalists or the first of the post-minimalists. Though his music shares several traits with that of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, or Terry Riley, Adams' music from his earliest works used a wide variety of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ideas, making his...
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John Adams: Shaker Loops, Light Over Water, John Adams
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