Longmont Symphony Orchestra
Robert Olson, conductor
John Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine (3/13/04)
Richard Strauss: Death and Transfiguration, Op.24 (3/14/04)
Also, Charley talks with violinist Jerilyn Jorgensen about her recitals with pianist Cullan Bryant this weekend.
Benjamin Britten: "Perpetual Motion" (2nd movement) & "Waltz" (4th movement) from Suite, Op.6
Jerilyn Jorgensen, violin; Cullan Bryant, piano
CPR Performance Studio 11/13/09 MS
Wes Devore: In the Middle of Nowhere
Felix Mendelssohn: Andante & Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14
Wes Devore, piano
NCA (11/8/08) 2:56 + 6:44

John Adams (b.1947): Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Adams grew up in New Hampshire. He studied the clarinet, and later composition with Leon Kirchner at Harvard. Moving to California in 1971, he worked in a warehouse, then joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory. He was composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from 1979-1985. His opera Nixon in China won a Grammy in 1989 and his Violin Concerto won the Grawemeyer Award in 1995.
Commissioned for the opening concert of the Great Woods Festival in Mansfield, Massachusetts, Short Ride in a Fast Machine was first performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, on June 13, 1986. The work is subtitled ``Fanfare for Great Woods.''
Asked to explain the title, Adams replied: ``You know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn't?'' Accordingly, the score is marked ``Delirando'' (frenzied), with a relentless clacking of the woodblock, which Adams calls ``almost sadistic.''
The score calls for 2 piccolos, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 4 clarinets, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 2 synthesizers, timpani, percussion and strings.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949): Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Opus 24

During 1889, the last year of his contract as third conductor at the Munich Court Opera, Strauss completed the tone poem Death and Transfiguration. Strauss conducted the first performance on June 21, 1890 at a music festival in Eisenach. It was well received. After a Viennese performance three years later, the critic Eduard Hanslick wrote of the ``realistic vividness'' of the score.
The program for the work is best described by Strauss himself. In a letter, he said that the music depicts ``the dying hours of a man who had striven towards the highest idealistic aims, maybe indeed those of an artist. The sick man lies in bed, asleep, with heavy irregular breathing; friendly dreams conjure a smile on the features of the deeply suffering man; he wakes up; he is once more racked with horrible agonies; his limbs shake with fever--as the attack passes and the pains leave off, his thoughts wander through his past life; his childhood passes before him, the time of his youth with its strivings and passions and then, as the pains already begin to return, there appears to him the fruit of his life's path, the conception, the ideal which he has sought to realize, to present artistically, but which he has not been able to complete, since it is not for man to be able to accomplish such things. The hour of death approaches, the soul leaves the body in order to find gloriously achieved in everlasting space those things which could not be fulfilled here below.''
The music was so convincing that nearly sixty years later, on his own deathbed, Strauss wrote to his daughter-in-law: ``Dying is just as I composed it in Death and Transfiguration.'' His friend Alexander Ritter was moved to write a poem on the subject, a more elaborate telling of the original Strauss program. The composer approved, and the poem was printed with the score.
There are four main sections in the work. A slow introduction depicting illness and sleep leads to an agitated representation of the struggle with death. Some calm returns as dreams and childhood memories figure in the third part. But--to quote the Ritter poem--``the iron hammer of Death threatens its last blow,'' and the final section imparts the transfiguration, or ``deliverance from the world.''
The work is scored for 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, tam-tam, 2 harps and strings.