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John Adams: Complete Piano Music

Rate It! Avg: 4.5 (31 ratings)
John Adams: Complete Piano Music album cover
Phrygian Gates
American Berserk
China Gates
Hallelujah Junction
Album Information

Total Tracks: 4   Total Length: 52:01

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Wondering Sound

Review 95

Seth Colter Walls has worked as a political correspondent in cities such as Beirut and Washington, though now he writes about books, movies and music -- often w...more »

Ralph Van Raat, John Adams: Complete Piano Music
Label: Naxos

Aside from the original “Shaker Loops,” the other highlight of Adams’s early career is his writing for solo piano. These pieces are most efficiently collected on this single disc from Naxos. “Phyrgian Gates,” at 30 minutes, sees Adams’s ambitions testing the limits of pure minimalism: The pieces feel at times as though it wants to burst out into the wild, orchestrated colors of a full-throated symphony…though no philharmonic has commissioned Adams to write one yet.… read more »

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No, 4 pieces doesn't seem like much for a complete ouevre, but fans of John Adams' not-quite-minimalism will find plenty to enjoy here. Phrygian Gates and its little sibling, China Gates, are among his earliest works so they probably qualify as classics of the genre now. Adams certainly knows how to name a piece. American Berserk is suitably raucous, while Hallelujah Junction is driven by railroad rhythms and the sort of religious fervour found in Shaker Loops. This (for 2 pianos) is my favourite on the disc - the propulsion grinds to a halt halfway through, to give way to an increasing lyricism, rising to some glorious music before the whole thing goes off the rails in a very Ivesian conclusion.