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  • Adams: I Was Looking At The Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky
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Adams: I Was Looking At The Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky


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Audio CD, November 3, 1998
$10.96 $1.54

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Product Details

  • Performer: Welly Yang, Seppo Kantonen, Jari-Pekka Karvonen, Marin Mazzie, Darius de Haas, et al.
  • Conductor: John Adams
  • Composer: John Adams
  • Audio CD (November 3, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00000DD99
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,417 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Ensemble - I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky (Mike, Consuelo, Dewain, Rick, Leila, Tiffany, David)
2. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: A Sermon On Romance (David, Leila)
3. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Consuelo's Dream (Connsuelo)
4. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Mike's Song About Arresting A Particular Individual (Mike)
5. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Tiffany's Solo (Mike)
6. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Song About The On-Site Altercation (Dewain, Tiffany, Leila, Mike)
7. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Song About The Bad Boys And The News (Tiffany, Consuelo, Leila)
8. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Your Honor My Client He's A Young Black Man (Rick, Dewain)
9. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Leila's Song; Alone (Again Or At Last) (Leila)
10. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Three Weeks And Still I'm Outta My Mind (David, Lelia)
11. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Crushed By The Rock I Been Standing On (David, Consuelo, Tiffany, Rick)
12. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Dewain's Song Of Liberation And Surprise (Dewain)
13. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: !Este Pais! - This Country (Consuelo, Dewain)
14. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: One Last Look At The Angel In Your Eyes (Consuelo, Dewain)
15. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Finale (Mike, Consuelo, Dewain, Rick, Leila, Tiffany, David)

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. G. H. Haslett on December 4, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This work falls between two stools - on the one hand the style is eclectic, encompassing gospel, rock, sprechstimme, opera, musical theatre. On the other it could have been written by no one but Adams. He takes a variety of musical styles and makes them his own. I was initially puzzled by it but many subsequent hearings have confirmed that here is a wonderful piece of musical theatre, finding a depth of emotion that is light years ahead of the vacuousness of modern musical theatre (no names....!) If it recalls anyone other than the composer himself then it would be Sondheim - there is something of the New York composer in the small musical cells, subjected to numerous repetitions; but Adams' melodic gift is greater. As the wonderful title of the piece indicates, this is a piece about trnscending the mundane and finding spirituality in the most unlikely situations. I have played it countless times and it never fails to move and excite.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When I first heard this piece, a huge smile filled my face. I picked it up expecting another Nixon in China or Klinghoffer (which I loved), but what I got was wonderfully fresh and original. I had never heard anything like it. Who would have thought that minimalism and musical theatre could work together? Each song was a surprise. I was so happy to hear John Adams have so much fun with his music (something certain other modern composers of vocal music need to do). A great experiment in American music and theatre. The performances are all fantastic. Congratulations to Mr. Adams for not listening to musical purists and for coming up with something daring, original and fun.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sean M. Kelly on April 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It took me several listens to gather the full effect of what Adams was trying to accomplish on this opera/musical. I'm not sure that this recording fully harnesses it all, but it is an excellent recording.
As most people know, the recording is based on the 1994 major earthquake in California, and the structure of the recording reflects this, as movements 2-14 are meant as either solos or duets to reflect points of view. These pieces are sandwiched by ensemble numbers (part 1 and 15) that show off some of Adams' minimalist leanings but quickly switch over to pop and jazz sensibilities.
At moments, it's difficult to follow the flow of the action, especially on those parts that have no dialogue to connect sections. I suppose that is a nit-pickey point, all in all, but it was a noticable flaw as i heard it.
With Adams conducting, the cd shows off a different side of Adams. No, he's no Lloyd-Webber or Sondheim (thankfully) but the performance IS an interesting melding of opera and musical. While this concept, in my opinion, pales in comparison to his other operatic works, the work is a confident one, and is well worth listening to.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By H Keller on May 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I love John Adams. I love what he did with Ives' songs, his Transmigration, violin concerto etc. I was wondering why I hadn't heard this piece before. I was so excited by the beginning orchestration that I actually said to my wife that history will prove Adams to be the voice of our generation. Unfortunately, I quickly changed my mind. The problems began with the triteness of the "chorus" part of the first track. The piece continued sinking; not being buoyed by the insipid libretto. Adams is a rhythmic genius. I don't consider him a great tonal-melodist. I bet there is only a small audience for this piece. People versed in his concert pieces will find this uninteresting and those that like modern Broadway will not enjoy the angular melodies......but what do I know.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When this was playing up in Berkeley, Paul Hertelendy of the San Jose Mercury News compared it to Bernstein's West Side Story -- i.e., a plainly commercial attempt in the genre of popular musical theatre. This it is. Adams lacks a kind of musical charisma to create memorable, singable popular tunes, so on that level it fails. A pop attempt like this is a little incongruous: as if the dapper and nattily dressed Adams himself were wearing baggy jeans and backward cap. It's trying to be something it can't be. But what Adams always does is, first, set the English language in an unexpected yet natural and effective way, and second, introduce a steady stream of subtleties that should entertain any fan of his music. There is some great stuff under the covers here, but it is neither succesfully pop-attuned (like West Side Story or Lloyd Webber) nor emotionally profound (like Adams' own Violin Concerto or Harmonium.)
For all that, I like to hear Adams stretch himself and pop-inflected music at the same time, and since I think he's the best setter of the English language since Britten, I enjoyed "Ceiling ... Sky" (4 stars is my strong pro-Adams prejudice) and have been waiting for the CD since seeing the original Berkeley production. For my money, the libretto is better than "Nixon" and "Klinghoffer". The only things I miss are the great graffiti murals hung at the back of the stage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1998
Format: Audio CD
John Adams has created a bizarre masterpiece with this work. I started listening to Adams seven years ago, and from Shaker Loops to Common tones, to Nixon in China to Hodoo Zepyhr, to the violin concerto, and to Gnarly Buttons, the evolution of his musical ideas has been beautiful to listen to. This most recent work extends that evolution. I will not lie. The music, at times, seems...insipid. However, no other modern composer has the sheer audacity to come out with this sort of strange fusion between minimalism, show tunes, opera, jazz, and blues. This album is for anyone who loves Adams music thoroughly. The emotional roller-coaster of tones is here, the voices are magnificent, the story is interesting.
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