This two-disc anthology comes six months after the 40th birthday of Thomas Adès. The main new work by Ades is his 17-minute Concert Paraphrase for piano on four scenes from his opera Powder Her Face. Full of Lisztian figurations, as well as a sexy tango, it is beautifully played by Adès himself, as are his three Mazurkas after Chopin
Thomas Adès, who turns 40 this year, stands, in the words of The New Yorker, as “one of the most imposing figures in contemporary music.” To celebrate his birthday, EMI Classics is releasing this 2-CD retrospective of his works thus far, along with two new world premiere recordings with the composer as solo pianist performing his three Mazurkas and his Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face.
Adès has received great attention the past year, with an award as Composer of the Year, and both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall dedicating mini-festivals to his works. It is the mix of integrity and accessibility, along with a deep humanity laced with a wicked sense of humor, that make his compositions so compelling. Showcasing various themes of Adés’ work, from operatic and orchestral works to chamber, vocal and solo pieces, this 2-CD set makes a for perfect introduction the composer and his music.
Here is the opening scene of the opera “Powder Her Face”:
The Duchess of Argyll — a beauty of the 1930’s who was disgraced when racy photos were made public in a divorce case — is at the end of her life, and her money has run out.
Mary Plazas is the duchess, Heather Buck is the maid, and Daniel Norman is the handyman. Composer Thomas Adès conducts.
And here’s something quite different: “Asyla” is Thomas Ades’ 4-movement “symphony” for large orchestra including 6 percussionists & 2 pianists.
The 3rd movement Scherzo: “Ecstasio” begins softly, on divided strings, but swells to a thudding dance, a sort of Ades’ version of Rite of Spring. In 2002, Simon Rattle gave his first concert as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with Thomas Ades’ “Asyla” and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
Tags: Thomas Adès, Anthology, “Powder her Face”, Mazurkas after Chopin