John Adams

I Am Love

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Luca Guadagnino's 2009 film I Am Love features the music of John Adams for its soundtrack. Without seeing the film it's hard to know how such high-profile music could keep from overpowering what's going on onscreen, but the music must be used with discretion and appropriateness because reviews of the film (which almost universally describe it as "operatic") have been largely very positive. In any case, the soundtrack makes a terrific introduction to a variety of Adams' works written between 1978 and 1996, arguably the composer's most productive and significant creative period. Several complete short works are included (The Chairman Dances and Lollapalooza) as well as complete movements from larger works (Shaker Loops, The Death of Klinghoffer, Harmonielehre), and excerpts from Century Rolls and Fearful Symmetries. The pieces represent the Trickster and "serious" aspects of Adams' creative temperament, from the rambunctiously wacky Lollapalooza to the profound and meditative "The Anfortas Wound" and the serene, sublimely ecstatic Meister Eckhardt and Quackie, both from Harmonielehre. The performances and engineering are absolutely superb. These tracks all come from Nonesuch's archives, and most are the original (and often definitive) performances of these pieces. The soundtrack is a reminder of the brilliance of the music Adams produced from the late '70s to the 1990s, and besides introducing new listeners to the composer, could whet the appetite of his fans to pull out their complete versions of these works and get reacquainted.

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