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The John Adams Earbox: A Retrospective

Box Set

3.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Violin Concerto / Shaker Loops Amazon Music Unlimited
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Audio CD, Box set, October 19, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

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Having earned his composing stripes after the 1960s, John Adams had the pioneering work of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley close at hand as he ventured into his trade. And, while minimalism's historical continuum helps place Adams, he used Reich, Glass, and Riley (among others) only as a starting point. And here's proof: a 10-CD retrospective of nearly all Adams's recorded compositions on Nonesuch Records, the label that also issued Steve Reich 1965-1995 and Kronos Quartet: 25 Years. Adams's Harmonium, a choral work of startling energy and effervescence, appears here in a new recording, as do distillations of both The Death of Klinghoffer and Nixon in China, two path-clearing operas. Over the span of a career covered by Earbox, Adams has returned minimalism to traditional instrumental ensembles as well as to projects that at once advanced a political commentary and took that commentary back to orchestral audiences. And so, in far less time than his predecessors, Adams created works that now play like standard repertoire pieces: The Wound Dresser and Shaker Loops and the Violin Concerto--all of them are here. What these works demonstrate is a fierce creativity on the one hand and perhaps a hunger for commercial advances on the other. Adams may at times be a bustling free thinker, but he sounds ever conscious of what audiences are listening to. As for the works themselves, they remain every bit as daunting as when written.

Some may object to particular selections. I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, for example, hardly ranks with Adams's best work. But this box isn't a mere best-of; it's an almost-all-of. At times terrifically American--especially in the news-aware operas and their narrative pragmatism--Adams well deserves a major box set, and its coverage is appropriate to his varied, stylistically diverse output. As with any large-scale retrospective, Earbox--which fairly bristles with Adams's new composition, Slonimsky's Earbox--has spots where fans might balk at the quality of the composer's writing. But it's got a fantastic accompanying booklet along with its many hours of inarguably modern and thoroughly listener-friendly music. --Andrew Bartlett

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Product details

  • Performer: Sanford Sylvan, Kronos Quartet, Teresa Shaw, John Alley, Shelagh Sutherland, et al.
  • Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, London Sinfonietta, Lyon National Opera Orchestra, Hallé, et al.
  • Conductor: John Adams, Edo de Waart, Kent Nagano
  • Composer: John [Composer] Adams, Charles Ives
  • Audio CD (October 19, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 10
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00001SID1
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,412 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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