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CHAN 5129
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CHAN 5129

Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony etc.

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2013

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2013


Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Peter Oundjian


Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow


Brian Pidgeon


Ralph Couzens

Jonathan Cooper


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 69:32
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(b. 1947)

Doctor Atomic Symphony (2007)

  For David Robertson  
1 The Laboratory 2:05
2 Panic. Agitato - Same tempo - New tempo - 14:55
3 Trinity. Animato - Solennemente - Animato - 7:19

Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986)

  for Orchestra  
  Delirando - Slightly slower - Tempo I  

Harmonielehre (1984-85)

  for Orchestra  
5 I [Untitled.] Slow (new tempo) - Suddenly very slow - 17:22
6 II The Anfortas Wound Very slow - New tempo - Floating - 12:24
7 III Meister Eckhardt and Quackie. 11:27
  Slowly rocking - Precise, spirited, but not heavy ('scherzando')  

In this new release Peter Oundjian and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra tackle two seminal works by the American composer John Adams. Harmonielehre, a symphony in all but name, is an expansive, richly expressive, and often breathtaking work. It takes its title from a 1911 text by Arnold Schoenberg on harmonic theory and evokes the lush soundworld of that composer’s early tonal period. Also heard throughout the score are echoes of Mahler, Wagner, Strauss, Sibelius, Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky. The piece also takes inspiration from some of Adams’s own strange and surreal dreams. The Doctor Atomic Symphony, based on Adams’s controversial opera Doctor Atomic, focuses on the character of the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer as preparations are made for the first test of the atomic bomb. Although played without a break, the symphony falls into three distinct sections: ‘The Laboratory’, ‘Panic’, and ‘Trinity’. The symphony’s concluding section takes its title from the name given to the bomb test site by Oppenheimer himself, with reference to a deeply spiritual John Donne sonnet. This poem is set to music at the end of Act I of the opera and here in the symphony the aria’s intense vocal line is performed by solo trumpet. Also featured on the album is John Adams’s energetic fanfare Short Ride in a Fast Machine

 “… The Chandos disc gives us a substantial program of Adam’s work, in well played and beautifully recorded performances … “  Phillip Scott

“… Chandos’s SACD offers superior sonics … Oundjian has programmed Short Ride in a Fast Machine,  whichhas been recorded multiple times, but never with this much punch and richness… I don’t think it can be performed better than it has been performed here.” Raymond Tuttle
“This spectacular new release is perhaps the perfect introduction to those who do not already know the music of John Adams, as it contains not only three of his most effective works, but also encompasses a representative overview of the evolution of his compositional style… Highest Recommendation.”  Merlin Patterson 
Fanfare  - May/June 2014

"...The RSNO’s brass and percussion acquit themselves brilliantly, and Chandos’s sound is punchy and immediate. Peter Oundjian understands the work’s [Harmonielehre] structure, allowing the repetitive ostinati to register as music rather than doodles... Harmonielehre has so much to interest the open-minded – the smart musical references to Mahler, Ravel, Sibelius and Schoenberg, the glittering orchestral palette. More importantly, it’s audible proof that it’s still possible to write intelligent, engaging tonal orchestral music on a large scale. Adams’s abrupt close, simultaneously unexpected and totally deserved, remains a stunner...Abrasive and compact, it’s a chilly, though fascinating work [Doctor Atomic Symphony]. And evidence that Adams’s music, unlike that of some minimalists, continues to evolve. The gestures are more abrupt, the harmonies are bolder, but this couldn’t have been written by anyone else. Huw Morgan’s extended trumpet solos are beautifully played ..."

Graham Rickson - - 15 February 2014

"...This ... SACD bring some of the most exciting works of John Adams to one’s collection ..." ****

John Sunier - - 6 February 2014

 “…This is a powerful and exciting programme of music by the ever popular John Adams, and with Chandos’s excellent reputation for engineering this promises much… This Chandos is a fine release and it is good to have these pieces together on a single disc…”

Dominy Clements – – 4 February 2014

 “… this is a hugely enjoyable release.”

Martin Anderson – International Record Review – January 2014

                 Performance ***      Recording *****

Anna Picard - BBC Music magazine - January 2014


Andrea Bedetti - (Italy) - 18 November 2013

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