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Violin Concertos of John Adams & Philip Glass


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Audio CD, August 24, 1999
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Violin Concertos of John Adams & Philip Glass + Glass: Violin Concerto No.2 - The American Four Seasons
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Product Details

  • Performer: Robert McDuffie
  • Orchestra: Houston Symphony
  • Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
  • Composer: John Adams, Philip Glass
  • Audio CD (August 24, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B00000JXZT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,211 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I. Quarter Note = 78
2. II. Chaconne: Body Through Which The Dream Flows
3. III. Toccare
4. I. Quarter Note = 104/Quarter Note = 120
5. II. Quarter Note = Ca. 96
6. III. Quarter Note = Ca. 150/Coda: Quarter Note = 104

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Leave it to Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony to deliver one of the more impressive classical discs of 1999: a pairing of the violin concertos of John Adams and Philip Glass. Hearing the works of these two American music mavericks side-by-side is a study in contrasts: Adams's postmodernist composition from 1993 is filled with spooky overtones, as the violin threads its way through the piece, always at the forefront. It doubles as a ballet (the NYC Ballet cocommissioned the piece), yet never forgets the traditional violin-concerto form. Glass's composition from the late '80s is less complex. It, too, is based around a traditional structure of three movements, but these are passages we've heard from the composer for the last decade, though never quite so well assembled.

Gidon Kremer has recorded two earlier discs featuring both the Adams and Glass concertos, but the sonics (especially on his Glass disc) are less impressive than they are here. Robert McDuffie's violin isn't as piercing as Kremer's--a shame during the eerily gorgeous second movement of Adams's piece--but there's a pleasant balance to this new disc, and the Houston Symphony sounds fantastic. All in all, it's a great package of two contemporary classical-music compositions everyone should hear. --Jason Verlinde

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
I found myself putting down my book and listening CLOSELY.
R. Kelly Wagner
Robert McDuffie has a fine affinity to both these concerti and is technique is superb, his dexterity amazing!
Grady Harp
Anyone else - enjoy an intriguing experiment and an excellent performance.
Alex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2004
Format: Audio CD
John Adams and Philip Glass continue to be two of the more important composers of our time and how appropriate it is to have the luxury of both composers on one disc and with each composer's view of the violin concerto!

For some the Glass may be more immediately accessible, but for those who have yet to discover the glorious beauties contained in the mind of John Adams, just begin listening to this disc with the second movement of his concerto (Chaconne: Body through which the dream flows) and odds are you'll be hooked.

Robert McDuffie has a fine affinity to both these concerti and is technique is superb, his dexterity amazing! The other version of the Adams is a fine one by Gidon Kremer but in this case the orchestral collaboration with Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony is superior. In the Glass the orchestra plays with that signature pulsating glow that suits Glass' work. After the success of Glass' score for the film THE HOURS this concerto will doubtless become a concert favorite.

The sonics are excellent and the overall impact of this fine disc is as good as it gets for contemporary music. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, December 2004
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By R. Kelly Wagner on September 20, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let's start right off by saying that I grew up listening to, and loving, the traditional violin concerti. Give me Beethoven, give me Mendelssohn. (Spare me Tschaikovsky, please, I have heard that in performance so many times I'm finally tired of it.) I am not a huge fan of 20th century music, outside the popular Russians, film music, and band music. In fact, I come prepared to dislike Philip Glass. In fact, I DO dislike much of Philip Glass. The usual words I use when trying to describe Glass's music to those not familiar with it are "repetitive, monotonous, irritating, annoying." So when I found myself online at midnight ordering the album I had just heard on my local classical radio station, it was as much a shock to me as to anyone. But there I was - I couldn't stop myself. This violin concerto is - well, compelling. I couldn't stop listening. I found myself putting down my book and listening CLOSELY. It's difficult for me to pinpoint WHAT I liked about it - all I can do is keep repeating, it's compelling. It made me listen. It will do the same for you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Karl W. Nehring on July 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This superbly produced, performed, and recorded disk puts these two contemporary concertos together for the first time, with McDuffie and the orchestra digging into both pieces for all they are worth. To these ears, the Glass comes off as the more convincing and entertaining piece of music, with an especially affecting slow movement. Yes, some of the repetitions in the first movement are a bit too much; however, this is for the most part a fun piece to listen to, and the quality of the recording and performance are top-drawer all the way.

Try as I might, however, I was never able to get any satisfaction from the Adams piece. I was disappointed by Gidon Kremer's recording on Nonesuch (not because of his performance, but because of the music), and although the overall performance and recording on this new Telarc surpass that earlier recording, the composition itself is no more convincing. I have forced myself to listen to it many times in an attempt to let it break down my resistance, and I can report that the second movement has some moments of affecting beauty; however, to be honest, I must report that I still find the work overall to be disjointed and uninspiring.

I will readily concede that this is a most subjective judgment on my part, and I am sure that there are folks who appreciate this music much more than I do. Indeed, if you heard the Adams on Nonesuch and liked it, then you are most likely going to love this Telarc recording, and if you liked the old Telarc recording of the Glass, you are going to love this new Telarc recording.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark K. Reed on May 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I concur very much with the favorable comments by "gtrain" and C. Anderson regarding the Adam's violin concerto. It's a finely crafted and performed piece. I would not say it's particularly easy to be enthralled with on first listening. I'm a fairly seasoned "classical" music enthusiast with broad tastes, but I've had to put some studied listening time in to get to enjoy the Adams. Now, considering Glass's version of a violin concerto, one just has to listen with different expectations. Yes, this is typical Glass style, takes about one second (or six pulsations) to recognize it as his. But hey, this is invigorating exciting, stuff. The first and third movements make great aerobic exersize background - real aural fuel power. And the slow movement is beautiful, maybe not so profound or complex, but wonderful, and "user-friendly" i.e. sounds nice the first time through.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Todd Ebert on March 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Give me music that has creativity, virtuosity, originality, and passion, and I will promise to listen, regardless of how someone decides to label the music (including my above labels). Both of these violin concertos possess all of the above, and for someone who has always had problems appreciating the violin concerto, I find myself listening to this recording quite often. I tend to view Glass's works as seeming rather dark, brooding, and subjective/emotional. So it makes alot of sense that his music would work well within the context of a violin concerto where the soloist can step in an interpret this subjective world through his playing. And Adams' concerto seems just as interesting if not more sublime. I found the second movement both haunting and beautiful at the same time. In total I find this to be a wonderful CD, and am glad I took the risk of buying something I knew almost nothing about. Indeed, it is quite rare for me to hear either Adams or Glass even on a classical music station. Too bad because their music speaks more of the world we live in today, which is one reason why humanity at any given time chooses to listen to music in the first place.
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