Simon Rattle

Adams: Harmonielehre; The Chairman Dances; Two Fanfares

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Adams' Harmonielehre -- or "Harmony Teachings" -- derives its title from Arnold Schoenberg's 1911 book of the same title. Far in technique from Schoenberg's 12-tone style, yet separating from the minimalist school of composition, "Harmonielehre" in its three movements shows Adams returning to some of his finer works of the past and bursting forth with bright, energetic trumpet E minor chords in inconsistent rhythms. A darker second movement follows ("The Anfortas Wound"), followed by a bright and shimmering third movement, "Meister Eckhart and Quackie." Other pieces on this recording include "The Chairman Dances," featuring lines and phrases from Adams' opera Nixon in China -- an orchestral foxtrot between the Chairman and Mrs. Mao Tse Tung. Romantic and danceable, utilizing Chinese pentatonics. Two fanfares close the disc, most notably Adams' most famous composition, "Slow Ride on a Fast Machine." These works, particularly "Harmonielehre," show Adams severing ties with the minimalist camp, being more dynamic and emotional than many of the more static works of the minimalist canon -- hearkening back to many of the impressionist composers of the late 19th century (such as Debussy).

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