T. F. Kelly, First Nights: Five Musical Premiers (including Beethoven's ninth symphony) (Yale UP, 2001)
My feelings about the Adams piece were not altered much by this performance, namely that it had its greatest power in the aftermath of the attacks, winning Adams a Pulitzer Prize in 2003, but as the years recede, its emotional power ebbs and weaknesses are revealed. I would love to hear the score without the recorded track, a recitation of victims' names and words spoken by their families, quoted in the New York Times. Most of the music is simple and repetitive in nature, soft chords that rise up and vanish through sections of the orchestra, and without those recorded voices it would be revealed as a vanilla accompaniment. Both the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and Peabody Children's Chorus made pleasing and well-articulated contributions to the atmospheric nature of the piece. It has one major emotional climax, as the chorus takes up the words of the wife of L. Russell Keene III, one of the victims -- "I wanted to dig him out. I know just where he is" -- in a sort of gut-wrenching howl, with big sweeps of Sibelius-like sound in the orchestra. Little else leaves a lasting impression.
Simon Chin, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform 9/11 tribute paired with Beethoven (Washington Post, June 8)
Tim Smith, Affecting pairing of Adams, Beethoven from the Baltimore Symphony (Baltimore Sun, June 7)
This concert repeats tonight at Strathmore and tomorrow afternoon in Baltimore.