Friday, February 05, 2021

'City Noir' by John Adams

5 February 2021

This week I’ve been enjoying another musical recommendation from Jess Gillam’s BBC Radio 3 podcast ‘This Classical Life’ (reviewed here in January 2020). ‘City Noir’ by John Adams is a dramatic orchestral piece in three movements that depicts the city of Los Angeles. I’ve been listening to a recording of ‘City Noir’ by the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson. The music feels like the score to an imaginary film noir. It’s a busy, exciting work, parts of which sound like improvised jazz. I saw John Adams in 2016, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in a concert celebrating his 70th birthday (reviewed here in December 2016) which featured 'Scheherazade.2' – his piece for solo violin and orchestra, performed by Leila Josefowicz. I noted then that John Adam’s music is incredibly entertaining – complex and quirky but never inaccessible. ‘City Noir’ certainly fits that description and is making me want to seek out more music by John Adams.

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