JOHN LUTHER ADAMS (b.1953): Become Ocean.
Catalogue Number: 10Q010
Description: Become Ocean is a vast, immersive ambient soundscape, oceanic in concept and scale. A very large orchestra is divided into three sections, playing surging arpeggiated figuration and chords in very long note values, which ebb and flow at different tempi, suggesting tides, ocean swells, subordinate wave structures and the incessant surface motion of sunlight on ripples and wind-blown foam. Themes and development are entirely absent; the material is tonal, largely consonant with episodes of discordant undercurrents, and consists of motivic cells constructed from scales of limited pitches reminiscent of Adams' mentor, Lou Harrison (and the work's title comes from a poem honoring Harrison by his friend, John Cage). Intended to convey the endless majesty and grandeur of the seas, their role in the origin of life and their potential to overwhelm it through climatic catastrophe, the work is immensely powerful and effective, magnificent and elemental. The DVD contains the same performance with the option of surround sound (arguably enhancing the immersive experience), accompanied by slowly dissolving sea images which are pleasing to the eye but by no means essential for appreciation of the music. CD + DVD. Seattle Symphony; Ludovic Morlot.