John Luther Adams: Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing

Composer(s): John Luther Adams
Album Title: John Luther Adams: Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing 
Cat. No.: 80500
Genre: Classical
Description: Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing

The Apollo Chamber Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta

We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation....
T. S. Eliot

Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing is a work of musical contemplation, an attempt to consecrate a small time and space for extraordinary listening. The work is titled after The Cloud of Unknowing, a fourteenth-century mystical Christian text, which has much in common with the teachings of contemplative traditions throughout the world. The essence of the contemplative experience is voluntary surrender, purposeful immersion in the fullness of a presence far larger than ourselves. To find communion, we must lose perspective. What, after all, is perspective but a way of removing ourselves from experience?

In Western music, melody and harmony are equivalents of figure and ground. Together, they constitute a kind of musical perspective, which evolved parallel to that of Renaissance painting. In the musical textures of Clouds, I hoped to lose perspective. Surrendering the idea of self-expression, I placed my faith in the instruments themselves, and in a few elementally simple sonorities and gestures. My aspiration here was not so much to compose a piece of music, as it was to evoke a wholeness of music, a sounding presence somehow equivalent to that of a vast landscape. Still, perhaps unavoidably for me, this music has a certain starkness, reminiscent of the light, atmosphere, and land forms of the Arctic.
John Luther Adams

Clouds is a chromatic exploration of the tempered scale-a sort of Well-Tempered Clavier for seventeen-piece chamber orchestra. It is, in the main, quiet, reflective, contemplative music of a fierce beauty and spiritual depth that calls to mind Morton Feldman. 
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