John Adams: Naive & Sentimental Music
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Top Customer Reviews
I heard this extraordinary music on the radio (only some 4 minutes of the first part's middle section) and I was instantly hooked. I searched the radio station's website the next day to discover what they were playing and I discovered an artist I never heard of before, but who is actually a very important figure in contemporary classical music as I learned soon. When I got the CD I discovered a whole new musical world, somewhere between tonal romanticism, minimalistic "repetitive" building layers of music and "atonal" (I don't belive there is such thing)contemporary composition.
Postmodern modernism could be the word.
So, back to the title of this review. The massive, "alienated" music, that reminds at times of "american" film-score classics, with strong dark tones, powerful outbursts of energy and sparkling, floating parts of music with "elvish" (since we're in the age of Lord of the Rings histeria - which I approve somehow)
undernotes. So, what is the artist trying to say? He moved me to some other state of counciousness and inspired visual worlds coherent with the design of the CD, which somehow transport me to some endless, dreamy "Americana" dream(land)scape similar to Jarmush's Dead Man movie setting and atmosphere.
Great work by Esa Pekka Salonen and LA Philly.
I wish Adams would venture even further into those "twilight" realms and maybe abandon the "layering principle" in favour of more rhytmically and sylistically diverse principles as exemplified by Stravinsky and other greats of symphonic invention. But I deeply admire his melodic invention and orchestration ideas. Go beyond, if you read this Mr.Adams.
The performance is perfect as well. Salonen brings out the sharp, modern edges of the piece without sacrificing grace, subtlety, or tenderness of feeling. I know this must seem over-the-top, but I think I can recommend this recording to anyone interested in the symphony orchestra, without reservation.
There are similarities with Harmonielehre, which he wrote in 1985. Both are large-scale orchestral pieces in three movements. The music has multiple layers of sound and rhythm which reward frequent listening. Adams was once a minimalist, and sections of this music retain that style’s rhythmic drive. Adams claims that listening to Bruckner's Fourth Symphony, inspired him to write a modern version of Bruckner's approach to the symphonic form.
The title of the three-part piece borrows from a 1795 essay by Schiller, whose definitions of "naive" and "sentimental" art (the instinctive and the self-consciously aware) determine the two kinds of music in this score. Schiller wrote the “Ode to Joy” text used by Beethoven.
For Schiller the naive poet was intuitive, at one with nature, whereas the sentimental poet consciously inserted himself in society and in history. For Adams: Mozart, Schubert, Gershwin, Picasso, and Stevie Wonder were examples of Schiller’s “naïve.” Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Arnold Schoenberg, and, more recently Frank Zappa and Jeff Koons qualified as candidates for “sentimental” artists. Unfortunately this CD only lasts 44 minutes.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Harmonielehre. Elektra. 1985. San Francisco Symph. Edo De Wart, cond.
Gnarly Buttons. John’s Book of Alleged Dances. Nonesuch. 1998 London Sinfonietta. Read more
First and foremost I must say that I truly enjoyed just about all of the reviews of this music. Yes, even the 1-star and 2-star reviews. Read morePublished on January 21, 2010 by Vaughan
After reading the various negative reviews of Adams' "Naive and Sentimental Music," I came to the realization that there are many classical listeners around even today who won't... Read morePublished on May 4, 2009 by Transfigured Knight
Naive and Sentimental Music is not the masterpiece that Harmonielehre is. Although they employ similar orchestral forces and have similar compositional structures, the former... Read morePublished on April 9, 2007 by Robert S. Costic
Reading this bunch of intelligent reviews for John Adam's work is a great experience. No one seems to be bored by this score and the music intonates lots of different... Read morePublished on June 12, 2006 by PeterLagersted
As a composer I do actually admirer Adams' skill as an orchestrator and I do like his 'Harmonium' best for it's 'naive' very American(to a British ear) beauty which has a lovely... Read morePublished on May 27, 2006 by Mr. G. Yeloff
The following is from my review of a live performance of Naive & Sentimental Music by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Read morePublished on January 23, 2006 by svf
The earlier music of John Adams has been some of the most touching and engaging music to me, and it remains in my regular listening repertoire. Read morePublished on December 18, 2004 by K.E.A.R.
This is one of the most impressive symphonic compositions by an American composer in years. This is Adams on a genuine massive scale - similar to his Harmonielehre, and it is... Read morePublished on November 29, 2004 by G P Padillo