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  • Terry Riley: Requiem for Adam / The Philosopher's Hand
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Terry Riley: Requiem for Adam / The Philosopher's Hand

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Audio CD, September 4, 2001
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Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Requiem for Adam: 1. Ascending the Heaven Ladder13:21Album Only
listen  2. Requiem for Adam: 2. Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diablo 7:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Requiem for Adam: 3. Requiem for Adam21:18Album Only
listen  4. The Philosopher's Hand 5:50$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Product Details

  • Performer: Terry Riley, Kronos Quartet
  • Audio CD (September 4, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00005NSQV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,876 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

The Kronos Quartet turns in a spectacular performance of three unusually dissimilar Terry Riley compositions grouped under the title Requiem for Adam. Ostensibly the three parts of Requiem are based on the memory of Adam Harrington, the son of Kronos's David Harrington, but none of these works is particularly funereal. The perky, Bartók-influenced "Ascending the Heaven Ladder" gives way (unaccountably) to the harsh electronics of the composer-assisted second movement, "Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diablo," which in turn leads to the energetic third movement, "Requiem for Adam." This music might have a hard time finding a new audience, but Riley fans--as well as Kronos enthusiasts--will revel in the music and the warm studio ambience. However, the final work here, a five-minute improvisational knockoff called "The Philosopher's Hand," finds Riley on the piano in a deeply meditative mood that could have gone for another hour. It promises much for the future of solo piano music from this gifted composer. --Paul Cook

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Abell on September 14, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Terry Riley has my vote for the title of great American composer. Few composers working today have Riley's ability to range from unbridled fun to profound emotional depth. His long collaboration with the Kronos Quartet brings us this latest work, certainly one of Terry's deepest and most moving. Composed as a memorial after the death of 16-year-old Adam Harrington (son of the Kronos' first violinist), who shared a birthday with Terry's own son, the result is music of great emotional and psychological richness. In the middle movement, electronic sounds, suggestive of pop music, joins the quartet - a homage to the energy and tastes of the young man it memorializes. In the last movement, sliding tones suggest (to my ear) ambulance sirens, even as the work reaches a sense of reassurance in the midst of suffering. In total, it is a work of great tonal beauty and an immeasurable humanity. I bought this CD the day before the World Trade Center was hit, and it has been the one piece of music I've found consoling in the days since that event. It is a mark of Terry's own beauty of spirit that his music speaks to us on such a level. Listen to this work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Allen Ruch on October 3, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Written to mark the premature death of Adam Harrington, teenage son of Kronos violinist David Harrington, "Requiem" is an unusual piece for a work bearing that title. Cut from the same cloth as Riley's previous (and underrated) string quartets, for the most part it would sound at home on "Cadenza at the Night Plain" or "Salome Dances for Peace." It starts with a very energetic movement, somewhere between a scherzo and a loose fugue based on a few simple patterns. But the middle movement comes as a surprise, a sudden burst of electronic instruments announcing a quasi-industrial section rich in complexity. (It actually sounds reminiscent of King Crimson's "ProjeKct" pieces.) The third and final movement returns to the unassisted quartet. Subtitled "Requiem for Adam," its long, sliding notes and anxious motion suddenly give way to a stately, processional interlude suffused with a tender sadness and a gnawing uncertainty. The piece ends with a return to the dance-like energy, closing on a final coda expressed as the two syllables in Adam's name. Perhaps less a traditional requiem than a musical portrait, it's nevertheless a thoroughly fascinating and occasionally moving work. It's followed by "The Philosopher's Hand," a gentle piano solo improvised by Riley in the memory of his mentor, Pandit Pran Nath.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Case Quarter VINE VOICE on April 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
the first movement, ascending the heaven ladder, opens with a gentle beginning and continues with measured progressions, an arrangement suitable for reflection and memory--a composition marked by the hand of a pianist, listening i had the impression that the first movement would work just as well transcribed for piano. the second movement, cortejo en el monte diablo, is a mixed bag of musical forms, with playback samples created by riley on an ensoniq ts-12. there are few surprises in the third movement, requiem for adam, just good music.

the companion piece, the philosopher's hand, a composition for piano, played by riley, is riley's memory of pandit pran nath taking david harrington's hand at the memorial service for harrington's son, adam, and remarking that pandit pran nath's hand was the softest hand he had ever felt. the philosopher's hand reminds me of the solo piano of chick corea, his now he sobs, now he cries.
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Format: Audio CD
In the first movement of the Requiem you have to ascend to heaven, and an ascension of that type is definitely difficult, even for the soul of a dead man. It is rather easy to propel the image of that ascending staircase with string instruments. They just play single notes of a certain predetermined length at predetermined intervals and there you have that ladder and you can even speed it up because no one would go up that Jacob's ladder always at the same speed. Those notes can even disappear for a short while and the climber is like lost in his thoughts or his whirling vertigo.

And that ascension can even become brilliant and joyful. After all we are ascending to Heaven and that should be a great pleasurable moment of bliss for us, even if and even though we have to die first. But well there is always a rub somewhere and in everything. You cannot peal onions without crying and you cannot take a shower without undressing first. That's the down turning side of things. So let's die to climb, hopping and skipping to the highest heaven we can find. The sky is our limit after all.

And when you think it is Adam who is finally ascending to the sky after so many millennia spent in the Limbos of hell or of nowhere because he was not a proper Christian. How dumb of him to have forgotten to go to Sunday school regularly. It may be useless but in his case it would have avoided him all these thousands of years in these dark and sad limbos. It does not matter at all that the Adam evoked here is Adam Harrington. All Adams are just one and single Adam, the one we all know from birth to death and even beyond and before.

The second movement is a complete change since we are still in the sky but only at the top of a mountain and the movement is not to go up any more but to go down.
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