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23.9.11

Son of Chamber Symphony: It's Alive

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See my review of a new recording of the string quartet and second chamber symphony of John Adams, in the Sunday Arts section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, John Adams’s String Quartet outshines his ‘Son of Chamber Symphony’ on new CD
Washington Post, September 25, 2011

available at Amazon
J. Adams, Son of Chamber Symphony / String Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, St. Lawrence String Quartet, J. Adams

(released on May 31, 2011)
Nonesuch 523014-2 | 54'
In 2007, American composer John Adams said he was working on a follow-up to his “Chamber Symphony,” composed in 1992. He joked then that he was thinking of calling it “Son of Chamber Symphony,” which has a much better ring for a sequel than the more pedestrian “No. 2.” The name stuck, and “Son of Chamber Symphony” made its premiere later that fall.

The title makes explicit the parentage of the later work, and in this case it may be a little too much of “like father, like son.” The elder “Chamber Symphony” was a rock-fueled bacchanal in the outer movements, paced by the trap set, with cowbell-smack echoes of Bernstein’s “Mambo” in the first movement, “Mongrel Airs.” (That movement was named “to honor a British critic who complained that my music lacked breeding,” as Adams famously put it, so I had better choose my words carefully.) As with so much of Adams’s music, one has the sense of a sort of mathematical schema in both works, a set of patterns in each movement, wound up like a clock mechanism and allowed to tick to its conclusion. [Continue reading]
SEE ALSO:
Robert Baird, Recording of September 2011: Son of Chamber Symphony (Stereophile, September 1)

Christopher Abbot, John Adams, Son of Chamber Symphony on Nonesuch (Fanfare, August 20)

Robert Battey, St. Lawrence Quartet impresses with new Adams, Viñao (Washington Post, December 7, 2009)

Mark Swed, John Adams has a 'Son' that he can be proud of (Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2007)

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