Besides holding the de facto office of U.S. Composer General, John Adams is also a crackerjack curator of music festivals. His next production is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Minimalist Jukebox. I went to graduate school for composers at Uptown Central (also called Columbia University) and it's startling how easy it was for the tweedy modernists I knew there in the 1908s to write off an entire musical earthquake just because it annoyed them. It's heartening now to see an American orchestra, especially one led by the Finnish modernist Esa-Pekka Salonen, grapple with the movement on such a massive scale. One program is devoted to Arvo Pärt and Louis Andriessen, but otherwise the festival chronicles an all-American revolution - a continuous revolution that to my ears improved with age. In 1964 Terry Riley's In C was momentous for its mind-numbing simplicity, and it gave a well-earned kick in the pants to imported Viennese angst. But it's at least as great a distance from that bare-bones landmark to Adams' huge, churning, intricate Doctor Atomic forty years later. Minimalist pieces evolve slowly; minimalism as an aesthetic hustled along at a good historical clip.
— Justin Davidson
Jdavidson8 at nyc.rr.com
LA readers should also be aware of a Thomas Adès mini-fest next weekend at the Philharmonic. Adès will conduct scenes from his Tempest opera and his new Violin Concerto, together with Tempest music by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. He'll also play his Piano Quintet in a chamber concert and lead a Green Umbrella concert with LA Phil musicians. Meanwhile, at the New York Philharmonic ... The Magic of Mozart!