Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

John Adams - Fearful Symmetries/The Wound Dresser (1989)


John Adams conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Music from the late '80s by minimalist composer John Adams. Adams has earned two degrees from Harvard University (BA 1971, MA 1972) and was among the first students to be allowed to submit a musical composition for a Harvard undergraduate thesis. In other words, he knows what he's doing.

Tracks:
The Wound-Dresser (1989): An interesting piece for orchestra and baritone (sung beautifully here by Sanford Sylvan). The text is a Walt Whitman poem describing the suffering in the Civil War hospitals and the poet’s suffering, faithfulness to duty, and developing compassion as he tended to soldiers’ physical wounds and gave comfort. The musical setting fits the poem perfectly (I especially like how Adams uses piccolo trumpet here) and the orchestra plays well, but I'm not a huge fan of classical vocal pieces. Plus, the morbid nature of the piece makes me uncomfortable throughout. Needless to say, I never listen to this piece. When this piece was written, AIDS was becoming increasingly present in our culture. I wonder if there's a parallel metaphor being suggested here. That would certainly take the piece to another level.

Fearful Symmetries (1988): This is a fun, energetic piece along the lines of the composer's 1986 work, Short Ride In A Fast Machine. An in-your-face instrumentation includes a saxophone quartet, synthesizer, and lots of percussion. Even though it may go on a bit long, I enjoy listening to this and it is a curious pairing with the first track. Here's what the composer says about the piece: Fearful Symmetries

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I don't even remember buying this CD.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Chamber Symphony/Grand Pianola Music (1994)

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