Notes and Editorial Reviews
Selection recorded in December, 1996 (Arabian Studios, Helsinki, Finland) and May, 1997 (Avatar Studios, New York City).
'I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky' is a lyric and title based on a survivor's response to the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, California. John Adams' opera establishes the situations of seven individuals in Los Angeles and then disrupts their lives with the earthquake, finally illustrating the upheaval wrought in all seven lives--change, but not entirely for the worse.
This work is much less an "opera-house" work than 'Nixon in China,' and evokes a variety of popular styles. Adams has moved away from strict minimalism in the sense of repetition and gradual change to a rhythmically active style
which incorporates a good deal of repetition but with more sense of forward motion. "Consuelo's Dream" has a luminous quality similar to "This is Prophetic" from 'Nixon,' but the work as a whole seems more akin to Broadway than classical styles.
The vocalists, mostly the original 1995 New York cast and not known as "opera singers," sing with directness and style aptly suited to their roles. The ensemble is comprised of Finnish musicians who feel the music well, and this vigorous, vital recording is conducted by the composer.
Gramophone (2/99, p.94) - "...There are many fine performances here...and tehre is so much strong music that I for one would like to see it live. It's a shame that the booklet gives so little information on the background to the work and that the flat recorded sound lets the piece down so badly..."
The Wire (p.62) - "[T]he ensemble playing is suitably uninhibited and funky..." Read less
Works on This Recording
I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky by John Adams
Richard Muenz (Baritone),
Marin Mazzie (Soprano),
Michael McElroy (Voice),
Welly Yang (Voice),
Angela Teek (Voice),
Darius de Haas (Voice),
Seppo Kantonen (Piano),
Marja Mutru (Keyboard),
Markku Tabell (Keyboard),
Janne Murto (Saxophone),
Kari Tenkanen (Clarinet),
Kari Tenkanen (Bass Clarinet),
Hannu Rantanen (Electric Double Bass),
Hannu Rantanen (Double Bass),
Jari Nieminen (Guitar),
Jari-Pekka Karvonen (Percussion),
Audra McDonald (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1995; USA
Length: 69 Minutes 54 Secs.
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