John Adams: The Dharma at Big Sur/My Father Knew Charles Ives
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Dharma at Big Sur is scored for an electric violin and orchestra and uses a tuning system that's not well-tempered. What really makes this work special is the way the electric violinist plays soulfully and beautifully above the orchestra for almost the entire work in a sliding style I've never heard before in classical music. The first movement "A New Day" with its quiet and contemplative opening really feels like it's the creation of an entire universe. The climax of the second movement might be the most satisfying conclusion to any of Adams's works to date. Dharma is an absolute masterpiece.
My Father Knew Charles Ives is wonderful too, even if it's not as powerful or moving as Dharma. The work is both an homage to Ives and a reflection of Adams' life. Clearly, Adams had a great childhood. The first movement, Concord, is playful -- the clearest tribute to Ives, since it's sounds structurarlly similar to his Fourth of July. The chaos in Adams' Concord is a little more rigid than Ives', but it's still fun. The second movement, "The Lake", features a beautiful clarinet line that evokes the composer's father. The scurrying of the last movement, "The Mountain", seems needlessly frenetic at times, but the cathartic ending that results of it makes the voyage worth it.
My one bone to pick is with Nonesuch.Read more ›
I've been waiting since i heard a rebroadcast of the L.A.premiere (2003) shortly after the actual live premiere and have been impatiently awaiting this release. That's about 3 years and i felt every frickin second of it!
I was driving to work the night it was being rebroadcast and I was just overwhelmed, not by the idea of an electric violin because to me that's really not that 'out there' but yet i was overpowered with emotions of excitemnt and a sort of 'awakening.' My eyes actually widened as the performance continued until i reached my work and i just sat there in my car listening, not wanting to leave any amount of the piece unlistened to. I eventually started work that night being about 20 min late but i just didn't care.
Let me tell you i bugged my local classical radio station who actually did the rebroadcast if they could give me a copy or something. I Bugged nonesuch records. I tried having it played on request nights so that i could record it on my computer. Finally three years later i get an email from nonesuch and i shortly thereafter purchase this amazing piece of work.
Looking back at all my reactions and after reading the booklet inside the cd case, I find myself amazed that all of those feelings from first eye opening discoverey and overwhelming emotion then agonzing wait to 'achieve' (in my case get the music again) and giving in to the wait and to a final fierce almost angry capturing of what you longed to have again after a very long journey, were all part of what John Adams tried to capture.
who'd of thought buying a cd could be so gratifying? Definately worth the 20 bucks.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you enjoy Adams' orchestral works, like “Harmonielehre” and “Naïve and Sentimental Music” you will probably like this double CD. There are two compositions on this album. Read morePublished 14 months ago by David Lindsay
John Adams at his best, the fist disk (the title cuts) are not the usual minamalism, almost a jazz riff. AS good as or better than his Harmonielehre..Published 16 months ago by randall E. Miller
I just don't get it. After avoiding John Adams for years, I decided I'd give him a listen. My first instinct was the right one. Read morePublished on January 14, 2012 by Personne
This John Adams CD is a great addition to my expanded 20th century collection. I am an avid listener of late 19th century and early 20th century and only occassionally move into... Read morePublished on July 21, 2010 by Denny
"The Dharma at Big Sur," a concerto for electric violin and orchestra, features the kind of post-minimalist style typical of John Adams' works, but is one of his more harmonically... Read morePublished on January 13, 2009 by Robert S. Costic
after listening to the dharma, inspired by jack kerouac's late writings, i had a look at my copy of adams' on the transmigration of souls for the compositional dates, the two... Read morePublished on August 15, 2007 by Case Quarter
I found this set a mixed bag. The first work - "The Dharma at Big Sur" - is a bit disappointing save for the massive ending, which is admittedly mind-blowing. Read morePublished on July 2, 2007 by Marcus K. Maroney
I'm a pianist and i find The Dharma at Big Sur to be one of the most beautiful pieces i've ever heard. The Ives piece is good, but i'm not too crazy about it.Published on March 8, 2007 by Vasudevan Panicker
I don't think John Adams should be canonized so early. The idiom he's chosen to write in, tonal minimalism, has now survived long enough to show up early critics who accused it of... Read morePublished on January 7, 2007 by Santa Fe Listener