In this new release Peter Oundjian and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra tackle two seminal works by the American composer John Adams. Harmonielehre, a symphony in all but name, is an expansive, richly expressive, and often breathtaking work. It takes its title from a 1911 text by Arnold Schoenberg on harmonic theory and evokes the lush soundworld of that composer’s early tonal period. Also heard throughout the score are echoes of Mahler, Wagner, Strauss, Sibelius, Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky. The piece also takes inspiration from some of Adams’s own strange and surreal dreams. The Doctor Atomic Symphony, based on Adams’s controversial opera Doctor Atomic, focuses on the character of the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer as preparations are made for the first test of the atomic bomb.
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.
Between 1980 and 1998 Simon Rattle conducted no less than 934 concerts with the CBSO. Together they performed works by many 20th-century composers, as well as established favourites, and gave a total of 16 world premieres. Rattle also made 69 recordings for EMI with the orchestra. This box brings together that recorded legacy, which includes pieces by composers pivotal to his work, such as Mahler, Sibelius and Szymanowski, as well as some of the new compositions he championed — Nicholas Maw’s Odyssy, Mark Anthony Turnage’s Momentum, Three Screaming Popes and Drowned Out, and Thomas Adès’ Asyla.
Arnold Schoenberg was a music theorist, a composer, and a music teacher. In his teaching, as in his composing, he aimed at furthering what he saw as the superior tradition in music: the German tradition. …