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  • Adams: Gnarly Buttons; John's Book Of Alleged Dances
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Adams: Gnarly Buttons; John's Book Of Alleged Dances


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Audio CD, April 21, 1998
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Black Friday in Music Black Friday in Music



Product Details

  • Performer: Kronos Quartet, Michael Collins
  • Orchestra: London Sinfonietta
  • Conductor: John Adams
  • Composer: John Adams
  • Audio CD (April 21, 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000006E4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,183 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Judah To Ocean
2. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Toot Nipple
3. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Dogjam
4. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Pavane: She's So Fine
5. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Rag The Bone
6. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Habanera
7. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Stubble Crotchet
8. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Hammer & Chisel
9. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Alligator Escalator
10. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Standchen: The Little Seranade
11. John's Book Of Alleged Dances: Judah To Ocean (Reprise)
12. Gnarly Buttons: The Perilous Shore
13. Gnarly Buttons: Hoe-down (Mad Cow)
14. Gnarly Buttons: Put Your Loving Arms Around Me

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I'd give it 5 stars to off-set the average rating, but I'll leave breathing room. The title work, Gnarly Buttons (essentially a clarinet concerto with small ensemble), surely is based on "popish" themes ["folkish" would be a better characterization], especially the final movement "Put your loving arms around me". In fact, the main melody seems to mimic in tone, pitch, and rythm, the words "put your loving arms around me," to the point where it must have been deliberate. But every bad association one can have with pop music does not apply: there is a genuine development behind the music, and add to that the unique orcehstration. As for John's Book of Alleged Dances, these are wonderful "dances" and rythmicaly fascinating to follow (particular passages stand out, for instance 0:34 on track 5). Don't let the silly names (nor the fuzzy samples offered on this site) fool you: this is not a repeat of Hoodoo Zypher, Adams' foray into total electronic music that I'm sure many of his listners regret buying.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
As a great fan of both John Adams and Kronos Quartet, I am in awe of this CD. Gnarly Buttons is a wonderful clarinet/small ensemble piece. However, it is John's Book of Alleged Dances that makes this CD shine. Adams has (once again) shown that classical pieces do not have to be the dull, serious, angst-filled works that leave the audience depressed. His "Book of Alleged Dances" is a group of fun, well-written pieces for string quartet and, get this, foot-controlled sampler. John Adams, you are amazing!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 6, 2006
Format: Audio CD
John Adams becomes more popular by the year with his compositions for large orchestra ('Naive and Sentimental Music', 'On the Transmigration of Souls') and operas ('Doctor Atomic' and in a way 'El Nino') gaining justly increased performances, but Adams has another side - chamber works. As with all great composers it is the smaller, exposed works that often tell us more about a composer's genius. The two works on this splendid recording prove this to be the case.

'John's Book of Alleged Dances' was written for the Kronos Quartet and is a bit of whimsy in its series of eleven dances for string quartet and a rhythm track made of prepared piano sounds. The result is a group of works that pay homage to the backwoods simplicity of America's folktunes. The dances are endlessly creative, with never a moment of hurried compositional thought. They are played with such fine sense of fun and expertise by the Kronos Quartet that they become instant staples in the chamber repertoire.

'Gnarly Buttons' could be called a clarinet concerto, but that title does not fully cover the novelty of the work. Composed for clarinet, banjo, guitar, mandolin, trombone, English horn, bassoon, piano, strings, and 'two samplers' playing a variety of sounds including accordion and cow! The piece is dizzy, playful, funky, fun and virtuosic! Adams conducts the London Sinfonietta and the Present Music ensemble with clarinetist Michael Collins in this rollicking performance that feels like a ride through the farmlands and backcountry of America. It is a delight and the recording is highly recommended. The CD includes some fine notes from the composer, giving us an immediate association with the two works. Drop the pretensions and just settle in and enjoy some fascinating and fine compositions. Grady Harp, April 06
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Good heavens, classical music can be fun? Apparently. John Adams, in this recording, has shown that classical music does not have to be the austere serialism we're so used to. And yet, the music is still top-notch. Gnarly Buttons, is a wonderful small ensemble piece, and John's Book of Alleged Dances is for string quartet and foot-controlled sampler. Don't let the funny names mislead you; it's great music and a terrific album
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vikingsfan on November 15, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Some reviewers seem disappointed by this disc, expecting it to be more of the serious Adams of Harmonium, etc. If that's the only style of classical you like, by all means stay away from this release. But if you like the quirkier, livelier pieces on other Kronos Quartet releases like Pieces of Africa or Short Stories, this is right up your alley. The Alleged Dances pieces don't sound all that pop to me--folk-influenced, as a previous reviewer stated, seems more accurate. But the tempos are fast and rhythmic and the melodies are for the most part right out front, so maybe that equals disposable pop music for some listeners, although they sound more like skewed Irish jigs to me. They're very interesting, and have both an immediate appeal and a high replay value because of the complex harmonic structures and rhythms.
My only criticism would be the opposite of the earlier commentators: that the folk influences are made a little too academic and needlessly complicated in order to keep the classical "serious music" police happy. I also think Gnarly Buttons (about 25 minutes of the disc) is too goofy--I didn't need to hear the cow mooing in the second movement--and a letdown from the quality of the Dances (which together comprise about 30 minutes).
So 4 stars might be a bit high, but it's a far better CD for the right listener than some earlier reviewers suggested. Even half an hour of quality Kronos and Adams is better than most of my CD collection.
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