A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

London Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Adams, The Barbican, 11/03/10

I was at the Barbican for the 4th time in the space of 6 days tonight to see John Adams conduct the London Symphony Orchestra again.

The programme included 'Preludes' by Debussy, 'Valses nobles et sentimentales' by Ravel, 'Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments' by Stravinsky and the European premiere of 'City Noir' by John Adams.

The evening began with the pieces by Debussy and Ravel which I thought were subtle, occasionally being punctuated by moments of orchestral colour and dynamism. I enjoyed the next piece by Stravinsky which, as always, featured some excellent playing by a pared-down LSO. I picked up on a few noticeable Stravinsky musical traits throughout, although could not help feeling it was possibly one of his less arresting pieces.

After the interval I thought it became clear that the first three pieces were very much "supporting acts" for tonight's final piece, the performance of 'City Noir' by John Adams.

Adams was inspired to write the symphony by the films of 1940s & 1950s Los Angeles. In places it did have a distinct cinematic feel to it. I enjoyed the jazzy inflections which surfaced at the beginning and reappeared throughout the work and especially enjoyed the mountainous sonic landscapes of the second half. It all ended in a near-riotous finale. Wow.

BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting a recording on Wednesday 17th March. Click here for details.

My pre-concert iPod playlist included:

Magnus Lindberg 'Clarinet Concerto'
Einojuhani Rautavaara 'Cantus Arcticus'
György Ligeti 'Atmosphères'

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