Magazine article Gramophone

Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony

Magazine article Gramophone

Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony

Article excerpt


Doctor Atomic Symphony. Harmonielehre.

Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Peter Oundjian

Chandos [F] [SACD] CHSA5129 (70' * DDD/DSD)

Premiered in London in 2007, the Doctor Atomic Symphony follows a number of works (such as The Chairman Dances and Son of Chamber Symphony) where Adams reassembles edits and outtakes from larger projects to produce an altogether new composition. This recycling process rarely draws upon material that's best left on the cutting-room floor, however, and the Doctor Atomic Symphony must rank as one of Adams's most powerful and engaging orchestral works to date.

In theory, the symphony's lopsided structure shouldn't work--comprising as it does a short introductory burst, an extended second movement which begins vigorously and builds in intensity before gradually fading into near silence, and a finale that juxtaposes the work's opening repeated chord with a sustained choralelike melody, ending with a final, chaotic flourish. Adams conceived the work as a single-movement structure in the manner of Sibelius's Seventh Symphony, however, and the RSNO under Peter Oundjian manage very effectively to project this single sweep of sound from beginning to end. …

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