ZOFO is at it again, this time with an all Terry Riley album, which includes original compositions, arrangements and a special commission by the duet. It is quite evident in this music that the composer and the performers were personally engaged in the making of this electrifying project. From the very beginning, Terry Riley worked in collaboration with ZOFO in the making of this album. Mr Riley himself said: “There is nothing quite like hearing the full 8 octaves of a piano sounding in all its orchestral richness.”
Performed by the Shanghai Film Orchestra, conducted by Wang Yongji. Truly celestial and a different feeling than American / European performances of this famous piece. This CD also contains David Mingyue Lang's gorgeous Music of a Thousand Springs and his Zen (Ch'an) of Water. Highly recommended.
This may be the single most powerful piece of music that the Kronos Quartet has ever recorded, and perhaps that Terry Riley has ever written. This is because Requiem for Adam is so personal, so direct, and experiential. Requiem for Adam was written after the death of Kronos violinist David Harrignton's son. He died, in 1995, at the age of 16, from an aneurysm in his coronary artery. Riley, who is very close to the Harringtons and has a son the same age, has delved deep into the experience of death and resurrection, or, at the very least, transmutation. Requiem for Adam is written in three parts, or movements. The first, "Ascending the Heaven Ladder," is based on a four-note pattern that re-harmonizes itself as it moves up the scale. There are many variations and series based on each of these notes and their changing harmonics, and finally a 5/4 dance as it moves to the highest point on the strings. The drone-like effect is stunning when the listener realizes that the drone is changing shape too, ascending the scale, moving ever upward and taking part in the transmutation of harmony.
There is no string quartet that has ever been written that can compare length and diversity with Terry Riley's Salome Dances for Peace. Morton Feldman has written a longer one, but it is confined to his brilliant field of notational relationships and open tonal spaces. Riley's magnum opus, which dwarfs Beethoven's longest quartet by three, is a collection of so many different kinds of music, many of which had never been in string quartet form before and even more of which would – or should – never be rubbing up against one another in the same construct. Riley is a musical polymath, interested in music from all periods and cultures: there are trace elements of jazz and blues up against Indian classical music, North African Berber folk melodies, Native American ceremonial music, South American shamanistic power melodies – and many more. The reason they are brought together in this way is for the telling of an allegorical story. In Riley's re-examining Salome's place in history, he finds a way to redeem both her and the world through her talent.
The multifarious pulsings of Adams's Phrygian Gates (all 26 minutes of it) are more palatable here than on some rival versions, and the relatively brief China Gates (just five minutes) are well worth visiting. Terry Riley's pieces are more varied in colour and rhythm, less obviously 'minimalist', than you might have expected, with the worlds of jazz remaining well within earshot. Gloria Cheng-Cochran seems fully absorbed in the tasks to hand, and the sound is superb. California-based pianist Gloria Cheng has become a favoured collaborator with some of the most demanding of today's composer/conductors, including Pierre Boulez, Essa-Pekka Salonen and Oliver Knussen, for her renditions of thorny 20th century scores.