Sunday, August 13, 2017

John Adams - City Noir; Saxophone Concerto (David Robertson; Timothy McAllister)


Information

Composer: John Adams
  1. City Noir: I. The City and Its Double
  2. City Noir: II. The Song is for You
  3. City Noir: III. Boulevard Night
  4. Saxophone Concerto: I. Animato
  5. Saxophone Concerto: I. (cont'd.) Moderato
  6. Saxophone Concerto: II. Molto vivo

Timothy McAllister, saxophone
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
David Robertson, conductor

Date: 2014
Label: Nonesuch
http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/city-noir


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Review

PERFORMANCE: ***** / RECORDING: *****

At first glance, this is an untypical addition to the Nonesuch Adams canon. It involves none of the orchestras which co-commissioned City Noir – Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic were filmed performing the work for a Deutsche Grammophon DVD – and none of the usual conductors, John Adams himself included.

In fact David Robertson and his St Louis orchestra do a sleek and beautifully layered – which is also to say superbly engineered – job. And the link in scores composed four years apart is saxophonist Timothy McAllister, more of a lounge lizard in the big orchestral work than he is in the new concerto, where there’s a classicism and a very sparing use of vibrato, which helps to keep the jazz influence subterranean.

Neither work is quite the brave new world of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, though both add unfamiliar sounds to the complex weave. The Saxophone Concerto has echoes of the jagged unisons in the superlative Gnarly Buttons, but also a sweetness in some of the melodies that’s fresh. The angsty string lines of City Noir go back as far as The Chairman Dances and the burbling is familiar, though there’s method in the seeming free form; the trombone solo at the heart of the central nocturne is astonishing, and the finale builds to a repeat-mania as memorable as the one at the end of Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs.

Absolute Jest, Adam’s Beethoven riff for string quartet and orchestra, has to be the next Nonesuch priority.

-- David Nice, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jun/04/john-adams-city-noir-review-st-louis-symphony-mcallister
http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/sax-and-city-noir
https://www.ft.com/content/6e077514-fa6c-11e3-a328-00144feab7de
http://artsfuse.org/107048/fuse-cd-reviews-john-adams-city-noir-and-saxophone-concerto-nonesuch-and-howard-hershs-angels-and-watermarks/
http://www.allmusic.com/album/john-adams-city-noir-mw0002656620
https://www.amazon.com/Adams-City-Noir-John/dp/B00JL1BIJG

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John Adams (born February 15, 1947 in Worcester, Massachusetts) is an American composer of classical music and opera. He studied composition under Leon Kirchner, Roger Sessions, Earl Kim, and David Del Tredici. The music of John Adams is usually categorized as minimalist or post-minimalist, although in interview he has categorized himself as a 'post-style' composer. His works include Harmonielehre (1985), Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986), On the Transmigration of Souls (2002) and Shaker Loops (1978). His operas include Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) and Doctor Atomic (2005).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams_(composer)

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David Robertson (born July 19, 1958 in Malibu, California) is an American conductor. He studied horn, composition, and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He is currently music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (since 2005) and chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (since 2014). Before, Robertson was music director of the Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain (1992-200) and Orchestre National de Lyon (2000-2004). He has recorded for labels such as Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi, Naive, EMI/Virgin, Naxos and Nonesuch.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Robertson_(conductor)

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Timothy McAllister (born 1972) is an American classical saxophonist and educator. He studied saxophone with Donald Sinta and conducting with H. Robert Reynolds at the University of Michigan. He has premiered over 200 new works by many composers, and was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards. In 2013, McAllister premiered Saxophone Concerto dedicated to him by the composer John Adams. He is featured as the saxophone soloist on ‘City Noir’ (album) which won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McAllister
http://timothymcallister.com/

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