As in past years, WQXR's broadcasts of Spring for Music events at Carnegie Hall are being archived at the station's website. You can now hear Christopher Rouse's Requiem, which the New York Philharmonic performed on Monday night, and the Seattle Symphony's program of John Luther Adams, Varèse, and Debussy, which caused a sensation last night. In advance of that event, Adams gave an interview to the Times's Corinna de Fonseca-Wollheim, in which he revealed that he would be not only hearing his Pulitzer Prize-winning work Become Ocean for the first time — he missed the premiere because of eye surgery — but making his first visit to the main auditorium of Carnegie. Of his recent scores, he said, “I like to be on that razor’s edge between beauty and terror. What in the 19th century they called the sublime. That element of fear just makes it more beautiful.”
Carnegie's mellow, resonance-rich space brought out the Wagnerian aspect of Become Ocean, favoring sonorities of strings and brass. From the orchestra seats, I found that much of the score's glittering detail was lost: for example, one could seldom hear the epic piano part (Kimberly Russ was the superhero of the Seattle visit, playing also in Déserts and at the orchestra's Poisson Rouge event), and the most delicate percussion effects disappeared as well. On the broadcast, WQXR's microphones compensate somewhat. What will presumably be the definitive document of the work will appear next fall, when Cantaloupe Records releases a studio recording that the Seattle made in Benaroya Hall last November.