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Stephen Drury|Adams: Red Arc / Blue Veil

Adams: Red Arc / Blue Veil

Stuart Gerber, Scott Deal, Yukiko Takagi, Stephen Drury

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Cold Blue's John Luther Adams: Red Arc/Blue Veil contrasts some of John Luther Adams' piano music with his percussion music, an appropriate idea as, at least in these pieces, Adams treats the piano as a sort of hyper-percussion orchestra. Pianists Stephen Drury and Yukiko Takagi perform Adams' Dark Waves (2007), which is scored for two pianos and electronic sounds. Certainly, the piece perfectly illustrates the title, as it consists of huge, ever expanding volleys of piano sound that evoke a stormy night's voyage spent on the Bering Sea, impressive waves crashing over the ship. The electronic sounds appear to be a mere extension of the piano's capability to sustain and are not in themselves ostentatious, as the designation would suggest. Among Red Mountains (2001) is a solo piano piece played by Drury; here Adams utilizes the piano cluster chord in a manner reminiscent of Henry Cowell's The Snows of Fujiyama, but also differently. While Cowell sought to capture the majesty of the huge snowdrifts of the great Japanese peak, Adams' aim is to address the granitic strength of mountains themselves; Among Red Mountains is consistently loud, big music. Qiyuan (1998) is the earliest work on the disc, scored for four bass drums or one bass drum and a digital delay; drummers Scott Deal and Stuart Gerber perform double duty. The piece rumbles along like a great multi-frequency earthquake; relatively few would think of the lowly bass drum as an instrument that possesses considerable capabilities of expression, but Adams and his interpreters locate its possibilities. Drury returns to perform the title work, Red Arc/Blue Veil (2002), on piano with Deal on vibes and crotales, or "antique cymbals," small brass discs whose artifactual ancestors date back into pre-history. As with Dark Waves, some small amount of electronics is in use here, and once again, it is hard to say whether these are prepared elements or interactive ones. Like Dark Waves, the piece moves forward in sheets of sound, though these are more brightly colored and not as monolithic; Red Arc/Blue Veil is more of a journey taken through the mind's eye rather than anything related to the environmental phenomena that Adams finds so stimulating to his work. Cold Blue's recording is of outstanding quality, and the performances reflect the vision of the composer about as closely as interpretations can; there is a collaborative aspect to much of the music Adams writes and these performers are particularly close to him. Cold Blue's Red Arc/Blue Veil will be of strong interest to percussion fanciers; however, anyone interested in highly imaginative, non-systematized contemporary music should be able to get something out of it.
© TiVo

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Adams: Red Arc / Blue Veil

Stephen Drury

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Dark Waves (John Adams)

1
Dark Waves
Stephen Drury
00:12:30

Stephen Drury, Performer - Yukiko Takagi, Performer - John Adams, Composer

(C) 2007 Cold Blue Music (P) 2007 Cold Blue Music

Among Red Mountains (John Adams)

2
Among Red Mountains
Stephen Drury
00:11:07

Stephen Drury, Performer - John Adams, Composer

(C) 2007 Cold Blue Music (P) 2007 Cold Blue Music

Qilyuan (John Adams)

3
Qilyuan
Scott Deal
00:15:38

Scott Deal, Performer - Stuart Gerber, Performer - John Adams, Composer

(C) 2007 Cold Blue Music (P) 2007 Cold Blue Music

Red Arc/Blue Veil (John Adams)

4
Red Arc/Blue Veil
Stephen Drury
00:12:35

Stephen Drury, Performer - Scott Deal, Performer - John Adams, Composer

(C) 2007 Cold Blue Music (P) 2007 Cold Blue Music

Album Description

Cold Blue's John Luther Adams: Red Arc/Blue Veil contrasts some of John Luther Adams' piano music with his percussion music, an appropriate idea as, at least in these pieces, Adams treats the piano as a sort of hyper-percussion orchestra. Pianists Stephen Drury and Yukiko Takagi perform Adams' Dark Waves (2007), which is scored for two pianos and electronic sounds. Certainly, the piece perfectly illustrates the title, as it consists of huge, ever expanding volleys of piano sound that evoke a stormy night's voyage spent on the Bering Sea, impressive waves crashing over the ship. The electronic sounds appear to be a mere extension of the piano's capability to sustain and are not in themselves ostentatious, as the designation would suggest. Among Red Mountains (2001) is a solo piano piece played by Drury; here Adams utilizes the piano cluster chord in a manner reminiscent of Henry Cowell's The Snows of Fujiyama, but also differently. While Cowell sought to capture the majesty of the huge snowdrifts of the great Japanese peak, Adams' aim is to address the granitic strength of mountains themselves; Among Red Mountains is consistently loud, big music. Qiyuan (1998) is the earliest work on the disc, scored for four bass drums or one bass drum and a digital delay; drummers Scott Deal and Stuart Gerber perform double duty. The piece rumbles along like a great multi-frequency earthquake; relatively few would think of the lowly bass drum as an instrument that possesses considerable capabilities of expression, but Adams and his interpreters locate its possibilities. Drury returns to perform the title work, Red Arc/Blue Veil (2002), on piano with Deal on vibes and crotales, or "antique cymbals," small brass discs whose artifactual ancestors date back into pre-history. As with Dark Waves, some small amount of electronics is in use here, and once again, it is hard to say whether these are prepared elements or interactive ones. Like Dark Waves, the piece moves forward in sheets of sound, though these are more brightly colored and not as monolithic; Red Arc/Blue Veil is more of a journey taken through the mind's eye rather than anything related to the environmental phenomena that Adams finds so stimulating to his work. Cold Blue's recording is of outstanding quality, and the performances reflect the vision of the composer about as closely as interpretations can; there is a collaborative aspect to much of the music Adams writes and these performers are particularly close to him. Cold Blue's Red Arc/Blue Veil will be of strong interest to percussion fanciers; however, anyone interested in highly imaginative, non-systematized contemporary music should be able to get something out of it.
© TiVo

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