John Adams

Music

Twentieth Century Rocks at LSO St Luke’s: Guildhall Ubu Ensemble play Adams, Boulez, Varèse, and Zappa

It was the title of the concert that first caught my eye, a pun and a gratuitous film reference joined in unholy wedlock, with no objections raised from my pew. Then I noticed the performers. The Guildhall Ubu Ensemble are apparently no mere youth orchestra composed of Guildhall students, but “the musicians of tomorrow playing the music of our time.” I would condemn the arrogance and dubious accuracy of that statement, were I not too busy praising the superb choice of name and happily envisaging a future where all musicians pretend to be influenced by seminal proto-Surrealist literature.
Music

MTT conducts the SF Symphony in Cowell, Mozart (with Gil Shaham), and John Adams’ Harmonielehre

Last week's program at the San Francisco Symphony carried a sense of celebration with it. John Adams was in attendance, giving luster to the orchestra's new performance and recording of his "Harmonielehre" under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. (Edo De Waart taped the piece in his final year as Music Director, when Adams was composer-in-residence.) There has always been a tendency to rally around the orchestra in San Francisco — cultural boosterism being one of the old-fashioned charms of this now rather important city, which sometimes still thinks of itself as a town and behaves like one in its enthusiasms — and John Adams is a local hero in the orchestra's history. But the spontaneous applause I heard on Saturday seemed to go beyond these boundaries. It is a though, from the standpoint of an audience, Adams were being hailed for having rescued contemporary music — and indeed, he just may have.

Film

Milan – San Remo

By the end of Luca Guadagnino’s opulent revival of the family melodrama, no member of its fabulously wealthy Milanese family has revealed themselves quite as completely as the deceptively austere palazzo in which they live. It is an unusual house; enormous, urban and clad in a 1930s rationalist facade which conceals a feast of opulent but simply ornamented surfaces. The difference between its interior and exterior tells us most of what we need to know about its inhabitants. To an even greater extent than the Sirk and Visconti melodramas which it evokes, the story of I am Love depends on the details of inanimate objects -- clothes, cities, buildings and, above all, food.
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