Composer John Adams, who lived in Alaska for many years, has written distinctive scores that both evoke the natural world and seem to draw the listener inward with their subtle, detailed soundscapes. Adams' Become Ocean won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014, and Become Desert, a single movement of about 40 minutes, is something of a sequel to that work, inspired by Adams' new home in the Sonoran Desert of New Mexico. Adams' music is difficult to pin down to any one subgenre. It is slow-moving and trancelike, but you wouldn't call it minimalist; it is never static, and generally has no regular pulse. Instead, it is filled with small details that hover at the edge of consciousness, and in turn, relates to the larger programmatic natural context of the work. Become Desert receives its recorded premiere here from the musicians who played Become Ocean, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (there is a fascinatingly slight choral part) under conductor Ludovic Morlot. If you haven't heard Adams' music, try this out: you are transported into the world of the music, whose 40 minutes seem to go by rapidly as the almost inaudible finale unrolls. This is music to stand with Aaron Copland's evocations of the American desert. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2