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Become ocean

Become Ocean CD CoverI haven't posted about music for a while, and that's probably because I haven't been listening to much -- or at least not much new stuff -- in recent months. My exploration of 20th and 21st century classical music has faltered for the moment, although it hasn't completely come to a stop. I continue to obsess, for example, on John Luther Adams, and I'm posting now to recommend the new recording of his Pulitzer Prize winning piece, Become Ocean, which was premiered by the Seattle Symphony last year. WQXR is still streaming the Seattle Symphony's live performance at Carnegie from May of this year, and the studio recording is now available at fine music emporia everywhere.

To quote my post about the CD on Facebook: "I've been obsessing on the Seattle Symphony's new CD of John Luther Adams' brilliant BECOME OCEAN. The reviewer at SF Gate dismisses the music as 'a mashup of its obvious sources: the prelude to Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” Debussy’s “La Mer” and the massive sound banks and arpeggios of early Philip Glass.' As if that's a bad thing! It's also a giant palindrome and produces a feeling of endless tidal returning."

I hemmed and hawed over whether to describe it as "tidal returning" or "tidal churning," because both seemed apt.

It's perhaps worth remembering here that my exploration of 20th and 21st classical music was inspired by the operas of Daniel Catán, who died in 2011. I was looking for more music that had that organic, unfurling, flowing quality. I've found some, too, both in older music like Ravel's and in newer stuff like Frances White's. This piece by JLA is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. It really speaks to me, and I've been listening to it (and some other pieces by JLA) almost constantly since I started listening to that WQXR stream back in May. It sounds nothing like Catán, although both owe a debt to Debussy. Water music, but different waters -- perhaps the Amazon vs. the North Pacific. It's immersive music for me. I can drown in it.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
kalimac
Oct. 25th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)
"reviewer at SF Gate" = Joshua Kosman, the Chronicle's chief classical reviewer. Sometimes he gets it. And sometimes he doesn't.

"organic, unfurling, flowing quality" - I forget what we've discussed in the past, but have you tried Wagner? Richard Strauss tone poems? And, above all, Liszt?
randy_byers
Oct. 25th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
Yes to Wagner (mostly the Ring) and Strauss, no to Liszt.
n6tqs
Oct. 26th, 2014 01:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks- I've just started listening to this, but am always looking for interesting music to listen from the web.
I have few resources here, without traveling or buying more CD's.
randy_byers
Oct. 26th, 2014 03:00 pm (UTC)

Become ocean at sea!

n6tqs
Oct. 26th, 2014 03:50 pm (UTC)
I wish. Next fall we should be taking OHP south for the winter, but now I just have to tough it out in Rhode Island, putting the boat together.
I've already worn long underwear a few days.
randy_byers
Oct. 26th, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC)
How long will the boat construction take?
n6tqs
Oct. 26th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
We must be doing sea trials by next spring.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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