Music by John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Dave Heath
London Chamber Orchestra
Christopher Warren-Green, director


Virgin Classics 7243 5 61121 2 4


1-4 John Adams: Shaker Look 24:46
5 Philip Glass: Façades 7:48
6 Steve Reich: Eight Lines 17:56
7-10 Philip Glass: Company 7:17
11 Dave Heath: The Frontier 8:13


‘Minimalism seeks the meaning of art in the immediate and personal experience of the viewer in the presence of a specific work. There is no reference to another previous experience (no representation), no implication of a higher level of experience (no metaphysics), no promise of a deeper intellectual experience (no metaphor). Instead Minimalism presents the viewer with objects of charged neutrality; objects usually rectilinear, employing one or two materials, one or two colours, repeated identical units, factory-made or store-bought; objects that are without any hierarchy of interest, that directly engage and interact with the particular space they occupy; objects that reveal everything about themselves, but little about the artist; objects whose subject is the viewer’. So wrote Michael Craig-Martin in his introduction to the collection of minimalist works at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool. Included in that collection are examples of the ‘piles of bricks’, or ‘Equivalent VIII’, by Carl Andre and pieces by Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra.

Minimalism in painting and sculpture was an important feature of artistic life in the New York of the 1960s and had a considerable effect, not only on other painters and sculptors, but also on composers of the generation which includes Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Philip Glass, indeed, worked for a time as assistant to Richard Serra and has collaborated often with Sol LeWitt, and it was in Donald Judd’s studio in downtown Manhattan that Glass’s Music with Changing Parts was given a notable performance. During the late 1960s, after Reich had returned to New York from San Francisco and Glass had come back from Paris, the two composers would often come together to discuss music and play in each other’s ensembles, but in time they went their separate ways.

Steve Reich read music at the Juilliard School in New York and later studied with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio. In 1970 he travelled to Ghana to study African drumming and some six years later embarked on an intensive study of Hebrew and of the cantillation, or chanting, of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was to prove influential in the composition of his Octet. In 1983, four years after its first performance, Reich made some changes to the instrumentation of his Octet and re— named it Eight Lines. According to the composer ‘Eight Lines’ is structured in five sections, of which the first and third resemble each other in their fast moving piano, cello, viola and bass clarinet figures, while the second and fourth sections resemble each other in their longer held tones in the cello. The fifth and final section combines these materials. The transition between sections is as smooth as possible with some overlapping in the parts so that it is sometimes hard to tell when one section ends and the next begins.’

NOTES ABOUT Philip Glass
Philip Glass studied flute in his native Baltimore, then entered the University of Chicago. Having worked with the Indian sitarist, Ravi Shankar, on the music for a film he decided to withdraw his previously published works — about twenty of them — and to turn instead (again in the words of John Rockwell) to ‘defiantly simple strings of notes full of jumping rhythmic life, with the pitch choices simple and almost arbitrary’. Both Façades and Company were first envisaged as what Philip Glass calls ‘theater music’. Façades was written for Godfrey Reggio’s ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, a film of images and music with no narration, principal actors or dialogue. The music was composed with a montage of Wall Street skyscrapers in mind, but this particular scene was cut and did not, in fact, appear in the film. Company was composed for a dramatic adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s novel of the same name. It was first heard in the Public Theater, New York, in the winter of 1984.

While studying at Harvard University, John Adams was active as conductor, clarinettist and composer, before his interest turned to electronic music. Initially he was fascinated more by the equipment than the pieces composed for it. In 1972 he took on a teaching post at the San Francisco Conservatory and a few years later became music adviser and composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Symphony. One of the works that dates from this period is Shaker Loops. Composed in the autumn of 1978 it was first performed in December of that year by members of the Conservatory’s New Music Ensemble. Originally scored for three violins, one viola, two cellos and one double bass, it has since been adapted for string orchestra. The title refers both to the Shakers — members of the religious sect so— called because their worship involves them in shaking and trembling — and to the musical idea of a trill or shake. The loops are, according to the composer, the ‘melodic material assigned to the seven instruments, each of a different length and which, when heard together, result in a constantly shifting play among the parts’.

Dave Heath began his career as a flautist and did not start composing until 1978. He wrote The Frontier in 1989 for the members of the LCO; it was conceived with their own particular brand of virtuosity and their distinctive approach to music— making in mind. The work is in three basic sections — slow-fast-slow — but the central one can be played separately if desired. The many contemporary techniques required to perform this and other pieces by Heath include tremolando slides, ponticello and rhythmic scratch effects.

— Peter Avis


Christopher Warren-Green plays the Habeneck Stradivarius (circa 1 734) by kind arrangement with the Royal Academy of Music

Producer Tim Handley

Balance engineer Keith Grant

Recording All Saints Church, Petersham; March 1990
Publishers Associated Music Publishers Inc (Adams); Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc (Glass); Chester Music Ltd (Heath); Hendon Music Inc; a Boosey & Hawkes Company (Reich)

Design Nick Bell

Cover image Zafer Baran

Photo p.2 Tom Caravaglia/Elektra Nonesuch

Translations Byword

© 1990 The copyright in this recording is owned by Virgin Classics Limited

© 1994 Virgin Classics Limited

Printed in Germany




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