John Adams / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

The John Adams Edition

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The John Adams Edition is not some kind of official John Adams anthology, but it might as well be. The hefty set -- four CDs and two Blu-Ray discs with live concerts and other goodies -- documents Adams' year as composer-in-residence with the Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic), and it offers a fine sampling of Adams' work as one could wish. The music ranges from the mid-1980s (Harmonielehre, whose name signaled Adams' ambitions so vividly) to recent works. There are instrumental and vocal works; there are crowd-pleasers (Short Ride in a Fast Machine), atmospheric Americana (City Noir), big theatrical statements (two CDs are given over to The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which suffers slightly as a standalone work instead of as a theater piece, but which is still well worth rehearing), virtuoso music (the recent Scheherazade 2, with Leila Josefowicz as violin soloist), and comparative rarities (the 1989 Walt Whitman setting The Wound Dresser). There are four different conductors, including Adams himself, and the project shows that the top conductors in the world have to be as ready to deal with Adams as they are with Beethoven. But the biggest reason to shell out the investment for this box is the chance to hear the Berliners, who still produce a more brilliant orchestral sheen than anybody else, play the music and render its surfaces in living color. Sample the finale of the Harmonielehre, among many other possibilities. In a way, Adams' music, which added layers of orchestration and textural manipulation to the base minimalist language, was waiting for these performances. You might find one you don't particularly care for (perhaps one of the vocal pieces), but few will receive these as anything other than landmark Adams recordings. The John Adams Edition was nominated for the Grammy award for Best Classical Compendium in 2018.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Gospel According to the Other Mary, A Passion oratorio for orchestra, chorus and soloists
1 4:19
2 2:54
3 1:45
4 3:28
5 4:43
6 4:19
7 2:06
8 2:36
9 3:02
10 2:24
11 3:46
12 2:14
13 4:41
14 2:55
15 0:44
16 7:08
17 4:48
18 1:53
19 6:17
20 11:39

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Gospel According to the Other Mary, A Passion oratorio for orchestra, chorus and soloists
1 4:01
2 5:58
3 2:20
4 1:57
5 2:52
6 3:11
7 6:14
8 2:37
9 1:14
10 3:13
11 4:54
12 3:35
13 1:56
14 4:30
15 2:24
16 4:17
17 3:09
18 7:37
blue highlight denotes track pick