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Adams: Shaker Loops; The Wound-Dresser

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Audio CD, October 19, 2004
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Frequently Bought Together

Adams: Shaker Loops; The Wound-Dresser + Adams: Harmonielehre/ The Chairman Dances/ Tromba Lontana/ Short Ride in a Fast Machine
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Editorial Reviews

The story of John Adams is a truly American one. Raised in Massachusetts and trained as a composer at Harvard, at the age of 24 he headed west to San Francisco in order to distance himself from his neo-European upbringing. Shaker Loops, written in the hey

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Short Ride in a Fast MachineMarin Alsop 4:14$0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. The Wound-DresserNathan Gunn19:11$0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. Berceuse elegiaque, Op. 42 (arr. J. Adams): Berceuse elegiaque (arr. J. Adams)Marin Alsop 9:30$0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Shaker Loops (version for string orchestra): Shaking and TremblingMarin Alsop 8:27$0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. Shaker Loops (version for string orchestra): Hymning SlewsMarin Alsop 5:31$0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. Shaker Loops (version for string orchestra): Loops and VersesMarin Alsop 7:13$0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Shaker Loops (version for string orchestra): A Final ShakingMarin Alsop 4:09$0.89  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Nathan Gunn
  • Orchestra: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Composer: John Adams
  • Audio CD (October 19, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • ASIN: B00030B9F2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,893 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Abell on January 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
As an owner of the John Adams Earbox, and a bunch of other stuff as well, I guess I qualify as an official junkie when it comes to his work. So only the low sticker price convinced me to sample this new CD. But it was money well spent. Marin Alsop's conducting on this disk is energetic and committed, and really gets to the heart of the pieces. The burning-rubber tempo on "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" is especially great. There are some balance issues, as noted by other reviewers, which is the only reason to give this 4 stars instead of 5. I really bought this for Nathan Gunn's performance of "The Wound-dresser," which is one of Adams most heartfelt and emotionally profound works. The version with Sanford Sylvan, conducted by the composer, is a truly great recording, and sets a very high standard indeed. Gunn's voice is more of a true baritone, a darker, more "masculine" sound, and it's very appealing in this score. Overall, his performance is really excellent, and though he's miked a little too closely (or mixed a little too prominently, it's hard to tell), he interprets the piece with distinction. There's a couple of spots (hate to quibble, Nathan, but...) where he does some vocal things that annoy me. At the line, "Soon to be filled with clotted rags and blood," he does enunciates the bl-sound before rising up to the pitch, turning it into "buh-lud" and the effect is too melodramatic. (Compare to Sylvan's performance, and you'll see what I mean.) But that's picking nit on what is overall a fine performance from a really outstanding singer. I also think Adams own version of this score has an emotional arc that slightly eludes Alsop. It's an episodic piece, and though Alsop gets all the moments right, it doesn't seem to have the cumulative shape of the composer's own version.Read more ›
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Marcus K. Maroney on November 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
There's no doubt about it - the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra play brilliantly for the majority of the time in each of these pieces, and Alsop invests the music with great energy, due mostly to faster than usual tempos. Unfortunately, these tempo choices and some recording balance problems overshadow what otherwise would be a great addition to the John Adams discography.

While not usually something I advocate, a look at the timings indicates just what to expect in Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Alsop's clocks in at 4:05, SFSO/de Waart, the Netherland Wind Ensemble, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory Wind Symphony/Corporon and CBSO/Simon Rattle all take 4:20 or longer. This seemingly antiseptic comparison is actually pretty important in a piece with unchanging tempo, and Alsop's very fast direction produces some pretty hectic sounding areas in the piece. It is exciting when one hears the first three clicks of the woodblock at such a speed (amounting to about 20 clicks per minute faster on a metronome), and the opening trumpet rhythms are wonderfully articulated, but there are later areas where detail is lost and it just sounds mushy (not something that would be the aim of this work, I think). There are also several balance problems that pretty much ruin the recording for me. The wood block(s) are simply too loud - the only way you would hear them sound like this in concert is if they were amplified, and that's clearly not indicated in the score. Perhaps Alsop and/or the engineers decided that this would add "clarity" to the recording, but it really doesn't (in fact, it gets a bit irritating after a while). Likewise, the change of wood blocks midway through, from quite high and piercing to low and somewhat-less-piercing, draws unnecessary attention to itself.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 30, 2004
Format: Audio CD
As a collection of John Adams' earlier works (1979-91), this is nothing sort of a revelation for me. Long associated with the American minimalism movement, Adams composes music which I tend to think of as alternately challenging and droning with unexpected flashes of brilliance. But what is truly unexpected here is the powerfully rich and communicative nature of all four works presented here.

Whirling dervish rhythms dominate the opener, "Short Ride in a Fast Machine", an apt title as it feels like an exhilarating sportscar careening on hairpin turns, yet with a lovely gravity that is almost Coplandesque. The second piece is the most impressive, truly a soliloquy for baritone and orchestra, "The Wound-Dresser" is a stunning twenty-minute piece set to a Walt Whitman poem describing in graphic detail the poet's experiences as a nurse during the Civil War. Propelled by baritone Nathan Gunn's astonishing vocals, it is deeply eloquent and moving, all the more impressive given the often brutal lyrics about tending to bloodied and maimed soldiers on the battlefield. I just saw Gunn's galvanizing performance in the title role of Benjamin Britten's "Billy Budd" at the San Francisco Opera, and it is gratifying to hear his commanding voice, letter-perfect diction and compassionate dramatic style take over this beautiful piece so fully. And Adams elevates the drama in such surprising ways, for example, the use of clarion bugles during the climax. The composer brings a fulsome gravity to "The Wound-Dresser" presaging his masterwork elegy to 9/11, "On the Transmigration of Souls" (also strongly recommended).

The third piece is Adams' somber, poignant arrangement for chamber orchestra of an orchestral work by Ferruccio Busoni.
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Adams: Shaker Loops; The Wound-Dresser
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