Adams’ ‘Grand Pinanola Music’ Debuts in Louisville

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On Friday, January 16 and Saturday, January 17 at 8pm, the Louisville Orchestra presents its first Classics concerts in 2009 featuring John Adams’ controversial Grand Pianola Music along with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 and Dohnányi’s Suite in F-Sharp Minor as a part of the Hilliard Lyons Classics series, at the Brown Theatre. Single tickets range from $25 - $50 and are available by calling 502.584.7777 or by visiting LouisvilleOrchestra.org.

 

Joining the Louisville Orchestra in Adams’ Grand Pianola Music, Robert Thies returns to the Orchestra’s stage and is paired with Gloria Cheng for the adventurous work. (Thies performed with the Louisville Orchestra this past November in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 under guest conductor, JoAnn Falletta.)  Also featured in the work will be the voices of Margery Daley, Michèle Eaton and Misa Ann Iwama.

 

“Grand Pianola Music genuinely upset people [at its world premiere performance],” says Adams, “doubtless due to the bombastic finale ‘On the Dominant Divide,’ with its flag-waving, gaudy tune rocking back and forth between the pianos amid ever-increasing cascades of B-flat major arpeggios…it was never intended, as has since been intimated, as a "political" statement about the state of "new music." Nevertheless, I was alarmed by the severity of its reception, and for years I found myself apologizing for it ("I’ve got to take that piece down behind the barn and shoot it"). Now, though, I’m impressed by its boldness.”

 

“As with Harmonielehre, which began with a dream of a huge oil tanker rising like a Saturn rocket out of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Grand Pianola Music also started with a dream image in which, while driving down Interstate Route 5, I was approached from behind by two long, gleaming, black stretch limousines. As the vehicles drew up beside me they transformed into the world’s longest Steinway pianos…twenty, maybe even thirty feet long. Screaming down the highway at 90 m.p.h., they gave off volleys of Bb and Eb major arpeggios. I was reminded of walking down the hallways of the San Francisco Conservatory, where I used to teach, hearing the sonic blur of twenty or more pianos playing Chopin, the Emperor Concerto, Hanon, Rachmaninoff, the Maple Leaf Rag and much more.”

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