John Luther Adams: Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80500     Release Date: 1997-01-01

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.

Apollo Chamber Orchestra

John Luther Adams: Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing

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Track Listing

Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: minor seconds, rising
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of mixed Seconds
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Major Seconds, rising
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of Seconds and thirds
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: diminished bells
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of mixed Thirds
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Forgotten Triads
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Lost Chorales
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of Perfect Fourths
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Turbulent Changes
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of Perfect Fifths
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Chorales return
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Triads, remembered
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of mixed Sixths
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: ...and bells, again
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Clouds of Sixths and sevenths
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: minor sevenths, rising
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: clouds of mixed Sevenths
John Luther Adams
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Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing: Major Sevenths, rising
John Luther Adams
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