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Adams: Harmonium; The Klinghoffer Choruses

John Adams , Kent Nagano , San Francisco Symphony , Lyon National Opera Orchestra , San Francisco Symphony Chorus , London Opera Chorus Audio CD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 10 Songs, 2005 $9.49  
Audio CD, 2000 --  

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Product Details

  • Performer: San Francisco Symphony Chorus, London Opera Chorus
  • Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony, Lyon National Opera Orchestra
  • Conductor: John Adams, Kent Nagano
  • Composer: John Adams
  • Audio CD (June 20, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000025AQL
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,118 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Harmonium: I. Negative Love
2. Harmonium: II. Because I Could Not Stop For Death
3. Harmonium: III. Wild Nights
4. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Chorus Of The Exiled Palestinians
5. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Chorus Of The Exiled Jews
6. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Ocean Chorus
7. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Night Chorus
8. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Chorus Of Hagar And The Angel
9. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Desert Chorus
10. The Death Of Klinghoffer: Day Chorus

Editorial Reviews

If anything, this disc conveys John Adams's ability to make the difficult sound simple and easy. It also extends Nonesuch's tendency to issue rerecordings that appear first in box sets. Harmonium came out in 1984 on an ECM disc, played by the same ensemble but under the direction of Edo de Waart, with whom Adams developed a fruitful working relationship in the late 1970s. The Klinghoffer Choruses simply excerpts the Nonesuch recording of the opera. Both can be found in the John Adams Earbox, the sort of collection that the label has already lavished on Steve Reich.

What makes this disc sound simple is the composer's tasteful West Coast minimalism--its listener-friendly impatience with unvarying repetition; spare, keyboards-enhanced instrumentation; and generally mellow sound. Harmonium remains Adams's breakthrough work, his first big statement of consonant harmony. He became famous with it. What Adams makes apparently easy is the bringing together--the harmonizing, if you will--of disparate parts: very personal lyric poetry by two very different writers, John Donne and Emily Dickinson, sung by a choral group rather than soloists. And it works. Like the Nonesuch recording of Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach, the new Harmonium has been lovingly performed, but necessarily lacks something of the brazenness, the unexpected quality of the earlier one, the sense of having to prove itself. The choruses from the "CNN opera" The Death of Klinghoffer (certainly a tough subject) slow down stage action significantly; they're more effective on their own. Highly chromatic, delicate, and melancholy, these two works showcase Adams's thoughtful side, and remain unabashedly beautiful. --Robert Burns Neveldine

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Music June 24, 2000
Format:Audio CD
What a treat, to listen to John Adams' first masterwork in a new recording, conducted by Adams himself. The San Francisco Symphony play as beautifully as ever, and the choral performance is excellent. The sound is clear, and the album is perfectly produced, with very informative liner notes. The Choruses from Klinghoffer are expertly performed, as well, but seem rather like filler, as if they were thrown on the album so as to create a CD Adams' choral music. Couldn't something else have been used instead, like Century Rolls, or Naive And Sentimental Music, two Adams works yet to hit CD?Minor quibbles aside, this is a splendid CD, and a worthy addition to anyone's music library.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought this would never happen! June 26, 2000
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
For some years now one of my favorite "New Works" recorded has been the "Harmonium" of John Adams as recorded also by the San Francisco Symphony but under the baton of Edo de Waart. Time, and the increasing stature of the quality of playing of this orchestra under Tilson Thomas' nurturing, give Adams as conductor of his own work a spaciously beautiful contemplation on the words of Emily Dickinson and John Donne. The chorus is eminently worthy of plaudits for tone and diction. And to add Kent Nagano's travels with Klinghoffer.....all this makes for a disc well worth the wait. Extraordinary!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Music and Political Controversy September 19, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A fine performance of HARMONIUM under the composer's direction.
The choral suite from the controversial opera THE DEATH OF KLINGHOFFER is not a new recording. It is derived from the complete performance of the opera on Nonesuch. Much ink has been spilled over this work, and protests continue up to this day, as the MET prepares to open its new production next month. To try to hear the music separately from any political controversy is difficult. I personally believe that the work is neither anti-Semitic, or even anti-Israeli. It simply tries to paint a balanced picture of the Middle East crisis. The opening scene acknowledges the displacement of Palestinians in 1948 to accommodate European Jews, but immediately, in the second scene acknowledges the historic necessity of the existence of Israel. Although they are given somewhat sympathetic back stories, at no point are the actions of the Achille Lauro hijackers shown to be anything other than totally reprehensible.
What of the music ? It comes across as slightly more subtle than Carl Orff simplicity. It is engaging and attractive, but I suspect that a more harmonically complex musical language would better illuminate the text.
My opinion of the score will be tested by my attendance at the MET in November.
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0 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Get it together, Amazon! November 16, 2009
Format:MP3 Music
$20 for the CD, $10 for the mp3 download of "the album". That seems fair, no physical material changes hands. But when you look at the mp3 list, there are two tracks which are "album only". Why? Wake up, Amazon - charge the extra $0.01 (download $1 instead of the stupid $0.99 which shouldn't fool anybody) and sort out the legal issues!
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