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Thomas Adès: Full of Noises: Conversations with Tom Service Kindle Edition

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Length: 203 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Energetic, honest, and warm, these conversations between friends reveal the intricacies of the creative process and a deep and abiding love of music. (Publishers Weekly)

[A]n absorbing book. (The New York Review of Books)

[Adès] rearranges the canon with brisk ruthlessness. (New York Magazine)

About the Author

Tom Service writes about music for the Guardian, where he was Chief Classical Music Critic, and broadcasts for BBC Radio 3. He has presented Radio 3's flagship magazine programme, Music Matters, since 2003. He was the inaugural recipient of the ICMP/CIEM Classical Music Critic of the Year Award, and was Guest Artistic Director of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. After years practising in the mirror, he once conducted Bruckner's Ninth Symphony.

Product Details

  • File Size: 387 KB
  • Print Length: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 16, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 16, 2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,480 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Edufern on December 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It certainly reads on one sitting but I think it takes a lifetime of rereading. Great, maybe the best book I have read about composition. Adès is supremely articulate, just like his music, and he illuminates the creative process fearlessly and honestly (not only his own; he seems to be inside the mind of Stravinsky, Debussy and several others). Tom Service's questioning is the ideal "straight man" to Adès and he is certainly not obsequent. To enjoy and recommend. The polemical comments about Wagner remind me of Bernstein's "I hate him on my knees". I find puzzling the absence of any reference to music before Mozart. It would be fascinating to know what Adès thinks of Bach or Monteverdi-
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PETER FREUND on January 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first came across Thomas Adès' music at one of the yearly Chicago Humanities Festivals, where with the composer sitting some three seats away from me, I heard a rendition of his Arcadiana string quartet. It made such a deep impression on me that it feels like yesterday, but Google assures me it was fourteen years ago. I then got a CD of Adès' opera "Powder Her Face," and it reinforced in me the belief that Mr. Adès is a major composer. His latest opera "The Tempest" strongly confirms this belief. Moreover, at Carnegie Hall I heard a recital by the tenor Ian Bostridge with Thomas Adès at the piano. Not only is Adès a major composer, but he is clearly a major pianist as well. I mention all this, because with such a background, I did not hesitate a moment to purchase the Adès-Service book.

This is not to say it could not have been a dud, think Richard Wagner's "Das Judentum in der Musik." But the Adès-Service book transcends even my highest expectations. Thomas Adès lives music, and is able to accurately describe how he does that. He feels that notes exert a force on each other, he calls it a magnetic force, and this force sets the notes in motion and a piece of music develops.

In the course of this conversation with Mr. Service, who much to his credit holds his own, we get many a detail about what went into this or that Adès composition, as well as how major musicians fare in Adès' estimation. Brahms and Wagner, the two major, mutually antagonistic, German composers of the second half of the nineteenth century, both get their comeuppance. But they do so through readily understandable arguments.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Duzzi D on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Putting to the side the frequent disparaging remarks about a number of composers (Verdi, Wagner, Stravinsky, Shostkovich, Stockhausen all fall under the axe) and frequent references to all those people that don't really understand music or composition, I found this book quite disappointing. One could not really expect too much from an interview, but still one would be hard pressed to find some actual specific information on music or composition in this, rather expensive, hardcover. Adès, when talking about music, his or others, constantly uses metaphors and slips into rather convoluted language or imagery. Some of this might be ok, and it might even be unavoidable (at the end of the story it is very hard to "talk" about instrumental music), but the result is an interview that often ends up close to be incomprehensible. Tom Service occasionally tries to keep things together, by asking for explanations or arguing a particularly obscure point, but he ultimately fails, or seem to give up after a few pages of going in circles.

Still the book, a C-day present, ended up being oddly inspiring. It served as a reminder of how not to think about music and art. A lighter touch, less noise, more clarity and some simplicity (Ernst Toch, The Shaping Forces in Music: An Inquiry into the Nature of Harmony, Melody, Counterpoint and Form (The Dover Series of Study Editions, Chamber Music, Orchestral Works, Operas in Full Score), comes to mind) are more enlightening and cheerful.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barnaby Thieme on April 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Spending time with this book is such an unpleasant experience, it nearly makes me rethink my enthusiastic admiration for Adès as a composer. I've followed his career with great interest and seen him perform and conduct several times, so I have to say that this book came as a real disappointment, and I don't believe he did himself any favors by taking part in its creation.

"I hate the word 'people,'" he tells us at one juncture. "When somebody uses it they're usually lying about something for their own benefit. 'People want' this or 'people want' that. It's always an alibi, an excuse for something bad, something cheap, a shoddy compromise. I write for humans."

The book is crowded with fatuous insights of this caliber. It lacks meaningful insight into his own creative process or the work of other great musicians.

His observations on Wagner are incoherent and hostile, which I don't love. "In Wagner every note is political and that to me is repulsive. Ethics are a distraction that an artist cannot afford."


Or try this on for size: "When I talk about Wagner's 'fungal' quality, by the way, I'm talking about something quite technical: his music isn't a tree, it's a fungus."

Ah yes - I see! Quite technical.

It consistently feels unrehearsed, and not in a good way - rather, unfocused, tritely conversational, and somewhat neurotic and catty.

I can't easily remember written work by a composer turning me off to a greater degree.
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