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.
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