#3645: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

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John Luther Adams's <em>Become Ocean</em>
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Immerse yourself in John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean, a forty-two-minute piece for large orchestra, on tonight’s New Sounds. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2014, and consists of three huge crescendos, the musical equivalent of three different huge waves, majestically surging and receding. The title comes from lines that John Cage wrote in tribute to the music of Lou Harrison: “Listening to it we become ocean.” There is also the environmental warning implicit in this work, as the composer explains in an NPR interview for the blog Deceptive Cadence: “All life on this Earth emerged from the ocean. If we don't wake up and pay attention [to the melting of polar ice and the rising of the sea levels] pretty soon, we human animals may find ourselves once again becoming ocean sooner than we imagine.”

There is one note at the head of the score, “Inexorable.” It suggests the steady and inevitable pull of this orchestral tour de force, which was a commission from the Seattle Symphony.  Yield to the inviting, relentless, and at times terrifyingly powerful (as in nature) tidal surges of this absolutely gorgeous new work. (Note: although the composer meant for the work to be experienced in 5.1 surround sound so that one can be fully enveloped by the enormous swells, this show is only in stereo.)

PROGRAM #3645, John Luther Adams: Become Ocean (First aired on 10/03/2014)  

ARTIST(S)

RECORDING

CUT(S)

SOURCE

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra | Lorin Maazel, conductor

Debussy: Jeux, La Mer, Nocturnes / Lorin Maazel, Vienna PO

Debussy: La Mer, excerpt [:30]

RCA Victor Red Seal 64616
Available at Arkiv Music

London Symphony Orchestra | Andre Previn, conductor

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4; Britten: 4 Seas Interludes from 'Peter Grimes'

Britten: Peter Grimes -Sea Interludes, excerpt [:30]

Angel/EMI 88676
Available at Arkiv Music

Kirov Orchestra | Valery Gergiev, conductor

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade / Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35 – “The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman,” excerpt [:40]

Phillips 470840
Available at Arkiv Music

John Luther Adams | Seattle Symphony| Ludovic Morlot

John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

Opening, [13:57]
Middle, excerpt [13:52]
Conclusion [14:10]

Cantaloupe Music CA21101
cantaloupemusic.com