Thursday, April 23, 2015

Piano Music of John Adams and Terry Riley - Riley, The Walrus in Memorium - Adams, China Gates - Riley, The Heaven Ladder, Book 7 - Adams, Phrygian Gates - Gloria Cheng, Piano - Telarc 1998

Well here is irony; I am giving myself time to post, and my wifi keeps dropping every few minutes. Due to this it's now 4 in the morning, so I am going to attempt once more to post this disc, which is a rather unplanned post (I have it in a folder next to Riley's freshly posted The Harp of Albion, the only motivation really). I bought this disc for Terry Riley's "The Heaven Ladder, Book 7" as it was a world premiere and I was pretty excited about that. As far as the John Adams works go, I have always liked his piano music, and "Phrygian Gates" is quite enjoyable. This performance I find to be decent, but my version of choice is a recording on RCA with Hermann Kretzschmar playing the piano. The rest of that disc features Ensemble Modern playing Adam's kinetic and fun "Shaker Loops" as well as his Chamber Symphony. Adam's "China Gates" is brief and lovely, and to my ears has always sounded as if it could have been written by the brilliant songstress Tori Amos, especially during her early years (most of the songs on her early albums were for voice and piano only, or her voice accompanied by her piano and harpsichord playing, which was the case on her third album). In fact I will make a mental note, as I have a rare recording of a solo piano suite by Tori Amos that would be worth sharing.  

This is (a brief version) of what Terry Riley had to say about this program:

The Heaven Ladder Book 7 was commissioned by a group of pianists including Gloria Cheng and Kathy Supove. These 1994 pieces are the first totally written out piano works I have written since the late 50"s. Here the 5 pieces Misha's Bear Dance, Venus in 94, Ragtempus Fugatis, Fandango on the Heaven Ladder and Simone's Lullaby are brilliantly performed by one of new music's great pianists. The Walrus In Memorium was written for pianist Aki Takahashi.

This disc was a winner of the Gramophone editor's choice and "recording of the year". Here is a brief
review from Gramophone:

The multifarious pulsings of Adams’s Phrygian Gates (all 26 minutes of it) are more palatable here than on some rival versions, and the relatively brief China Gates (just five minutes) are well worth visiting. Terry Riley’s pieces are more varied in colour and rhythm, less obviously ‘minimalist’, than you might have expected, with the worlds of jazz remaining well within earshot. Gloria Cheng-Cochran seems fully absorbed in the tasks to hand, and the sound is superb.'

I'm going to end here as I'm getting errors now as I type about blogger not saving the draft.. ughh



Tzadik said...

Hi everyone I wanted to check and reply to any comments left since I've been m.i.a. but my wifi keeps dropping like flies :( I shall try tomorrow, comments would never go ignored! TZ

theblueamos said...

Good to hear from you.I will comment again, after listening to at least some of the music.Stay well my friend.I wish thing would run a little bit easier for you.All the best from Jerusalem.

Tzadik said...

Hi Blue, it's nice to hear from you too my friend. Thank you for your kind words; I must say this has been quite a year thus far, last year was every bit as difficult as well. My car almost ran off the road last week (at about 70mph) due to a steering failure. I had my car looked at and I was told that to make the car drivable (as in, to a degree that I won't potentially kill myself and others) would cost me $10,000 (US) dollars. Never heard of such an amount. My car is my refuge and I'm in such disbelief. It's 17 years old but it's a beautiful car. I kept in in "concours" condition when I could ;) Despite this current crisis I am as always 'marching on' as that's all we can do! -TZ

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear this one too. Anything by Riley is worthwhile to me. It can be played for hours. Thanks.