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John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2017

Ten classical recordings that made 2017 a very good listening year

The caffeinated goofiness of his [John Adams] 1992 Chamber Symphony (as much a riff on Schoenberg’s seminal 1907 work of the same name as an homage to TV cartoon music) and its less densely packed sequel, “Son of Chamber Symphony” (2007), make logical disc mates in these highly charged readings under Alan Pierson’s direction. Podcast interviews with the composer make a welcome bonus. © 2017 Chicago Tribune

Kraig Lamper
American Record Guide, November 2017

I mostly love the idea behind Alarm Will Sound’s “Splitting Adams”. It’s a podcast discussing the history, influence, and meaning of two chamber symphonies by Adams followed by actual performances of the pieces. If you could take a Radiolab episode, with slightly less amazing editing, and then marry it to a stellar performance of new classical music, you’d end up with Splitting Adams. It’s hip in its presentation because the cutting and editing is great. Listening to Adams chuckle about his own inside jokes actually made me laugh out loud. It’s educational because it helps us understand not just what is played but also how to listen to and describe music. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, November 2017

…it is not surprising that they play this music with great accuracy and authority, remarkable flair, and apparent deep conviction. …Alan Pierson and AWS have vividly captured the cartoon-music quality of Chamber Symphony.

Son of Chamber Symphony—not Chamber Symphony No. 2 at the composer’s insistence—is no less imaginative than its idiosyncratic predecessor. …Mostly, it is all mind-bogglingly complex and fiercely virtuosic. The “hundreds of hours” of intensive work claimed in the podcast show in the apparent ease with which AWS overcomes—no, transcends—the difficulties. Everyone seems to be having great fun playing this marvelous, quirky music. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, July 2017

…this “podcast album” of both of Adams’ chamber symphonies is so refreshing and valuable. The performances of both of these important works by the always splendid and innovative Alarm Will Sound are amazing, of course. The real bonus here is the extended commentary and discussion tracks with John Adams, AWS director Alan Pierson and members of the ensemble.

…these present performances are outstanding and when you add in the very valuable and entertaining discussion tracks, I think this is the recording to have. In fact, I believe this very album would make an ideal first exposure to John Adams and his music. Highly recommended! © 2017 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Daniel Stephen Johnson
WQXR (New York), June 2017

Even without the background offered by the interview segments, these would be ideally engaging and immediate performances of these chamber symphonies—lively, clear, virtuosic and deeply sensitive to each piece’s moments of earnest lyricism. But thanks to the spoken insights into the composition and interpretation of these dazzling little symphonies, Splitting Adams offers the listener not just a great album of new music but a brand new way of hearing it. © 2017 WQXR (New York) Read complete review

David Olds
The WholeNote, May 2017

…a stunning work, made more memorable by the “Illuminating Introduction” provided in this excellent collaboration. © 2017 The WholeNote Read complete review, May 2017

The release has elements of a podcast, elements of a traditional concert (the chamber symphonies themselves), elements of a tribute to the composer, elements of sound display for its own sake—it is less about the music than about the way the particular creator of this music feels and thinks and thus (the argument goes) inevitably produced these specific works. …The idea here is to use a well-known, influential modern composer (who himself has numerous supporters and detractors) as the centerpiece of an offering that tries, through both music and words, to explore the artistic experience itself. Those looking for such an exploration are those to whom this recording will be most attractive. © 2017 Read complete review

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