Adams: Absolute Jest & Grand Pianola Music

San Francisco Symphony

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony join forces with America’s most-performed living composer, John Adams, in a colossal album featuring Adams’ Absolute Jest and Grand Pianola Music. Hear Adams’ inspired and witty take on Beethoven’s spirited scherzos in this first-ever recording of his SFS-commissioned Absolute Jest. Also featured is Grand Pianola Music, with its tongue-in-cheek allusions to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, written for and premiered by the SFS. Both works speak to the deeply personal and vital relationship of some of the top musicians of our time: John Adams, MTT, and the San Francisco Symphony.

There's no faulting this performance. The SFS and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas dig into Adams rhythmically tricky, texturally pellucid score with great care and energy.

- The Arts Fuse

The last collaboration between MTT, John Adams, and the San Francisco Symphony, Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride in a Fast Machine, earned a 2013 Grammy© Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

John Adams
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas, music director

Absolute Jest 25:40
Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas
St. Lawrence String Quartet: Geoff Nuttall (violin), Scott St. John (violin), Lesley Robertson (viola), Christopher Costanza (cello).
1.   Beginning 10:35
2.   Presto 3:30
3.   Lo stesso tempo 1:07
4.   Meno mosso 3:18
5.   Vivacissimo 1:49
6.   Prestissimo 5:21

Grand Pianola Music 31:54
Conducted by John Adams
Orli Shaham (piano), Marc-André Hamelin (piano), Synergy Vocals: Micaela Haslam (soprano), Joanna Forbes L’Estrange (soprano), Heather Cairncross (alto).
7.   Part 1 15:23
8.   Part 1 – Slow 7:46
9.   Part 2, On the Dominant Divide 8:45

Total Playing Time: 57:34

Recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall – a venue of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, City and County of San Francisco. Absolute Jest was recorded in 96 kHz/24-bit audio (May 4, 5, and 9, 2013), Grand Pianola Music was recorded in PCM 192 kHz/24-bit audio (January 16-18, 2015).

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