Callithumpian Consort / Scott Deal / Stephen Drury

John Luther Adams: Four Thousand Holes

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The two works recorded here depart from the sound usually associated with the music of John Luther Adams, best known for his vast sonic landscapes, frequently alluding to or incorporating sounds of the natural world. Four Thousand Holes (2010), whose title refers to a John Lennon quote: "And though the holes were very small, They had to count them all," from "A Day in the Life." Scored for piano, vibraphone, and orchestral bells, plus an electronic "aura" provided by the composer, the piece has an uncharacteristically bright, sparkling, occasionally brittle sound. Adams uses only major and minor thirds as the harmonic building blocks for the piece, although they are heard in a variety of keys. There are areas whose dreamy, cloudlike unfoldings make the piece recognizable as Adams', but some of its blockier, more exuberant sections disconcertingly call to mind the vivid brashness of the other John Adams' Grand Pianola Music and The Chairman Dances. …and bells remembered… (2005) for a percussion ensemble made up of vibraphones and other metal instruments, is, as its title implies, all about ringing, chiming brightness. It's not that different in its harmonic vocabulary from Four Thousand Holes, but it's an altogether lovely and mysterious work, subtler, more organically developed, more evocative, and more timbrally appealing. Pianist Stephen Drury and the Callithumpian Consort of the New England Conservatory, led by percussionist Scott Deal, play with consummate attention to the nuances of the scores and to the atmospheric nature of the music. The clarity of Cold Blue Music's crystalline sound is ideal for these pieces. The album may not be the ideal introduction to Adams for listeners new to his works, but it’s a valuable addition to his discography and should interest his fans open to exploring some less familiar sides of his creative personality.

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