Magazine article Gramophone

Adams Harris: Adams Violin Concerto Harris Violin Concerto

Magazine article Gramophone

Adams Harris: Adams Violin Concerto Harris Violin Concerto

Article excerpt

Adams Harris [G] Adams Violin Concerto Harris Violin Concerto Tamsin Waley-Cohen vn BBC Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Litton Signum (F) SIGCD468 (62' * DDD)

John Adams coined the term 'hypermelody' to describe the solo part of his 1993 Violin Concerto, where 'the violin spins one long phrase after another without stop'. This 'implacably melodic' character is arguably the work's main attraction as well as its primary difficulty. For the soloist, of course, Adams's Concerto is a tour deforce. Beyond the simple issue of stamina, it requires mastering a long thread of irregular patterns, knotted with double-and triple-stops, all of which must give the impression of an unbroken 'singing line'. For the listener, the challenge is following this thread as it unspools, for, as beguilingly lyrical as much of the music is, the syntax is idiosyncratic, and there are precious few moments of respite. It's rather like reading Joyce when one is accustomed to, say, James.

By my count, there have been five recordings of Adams's Concerto before this one--all eminendy recommendable. Tamsin Waley-Cohen's new account doesn't make the choice any easier, for her interpretation is technically beyond reproach and musically imaginative. …

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