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Robert Carl
Fanfare, May 2020

Become Desert (2018) is another in a set of pieces initiated with the Pulitzer-winning Become Ocean I also know of a Become River). It’s performed here by the Seattle Symphony under Ludovic Morlot, the same forces that premiered Ocean. It shares many aspects of Adams’s previous practice, but at the same time there’s something new, fresh, and thrilling here. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review



Rick Anderson
Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist, January 2020

Become Desert completes a trilogy that I didn’t set out to write,” says composer John Luther Adams. The previous two related compositions are Become Ocean and Become River, but this one is the most ambitious in terms of instrumental forces (it involves five distinct instrumental and vocal “choirs”). It explores and deploys sonic space to a degree unprecedented in Adams’ always space-conscious work: opening with quietly shimmering percussion and strings, its texture and harmonic density gradually thicken, even though the harmonic movement itself is close to static. By halfway through its 40-minute length, the whispering breezes have turned into majestic cliffs of sound; by the end, everything has subsided again into a whisper. Exceptionally beautiful despite its minimal harmonic materials, Become Desert is a uniquely lovely and immersive listening experience. (The DVD offers two different mixes of the work, along with a slideshow of desert images that loops during playback.) © 2020 Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist



Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, January 2020

The work [Become Desert] begins quietly, with the sparse, high sounds of orchestra bells and string harmonics, slowly fills its texture, reaches a climax in its middle (rolling drums, deep brass, bass voices), and then reverses course. Became Ocean was palindromic, and my guess is that Become Desert is palindromic as well.

I have admired Adams’s music for many years. … If you enjoy one, you’ll probably enjoy the other. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review




Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, November 2019

This is the postmodern at its best. © 2019 American Record Guide



Scott MacClelland
Performing Arts Monterey Bay, September 2019

Adams also engages the entire orchestra in his meditation, calling largely on delicate percussion to set the scene in the high register to which, after the swelling orchestra plumbs the depths, he returns. This action demands an extraordinary ability to sustain sonorities and textures over the long haul. (Below, hear the Seattle Symphony in Become Ocean.) © 2019 Performing Arts Monterey Bay Read complete review




Richard Hanlon
MusicWeb International, September 2019

I found that on second hearing when I turned off the slide show completely I enjoyed a far more holistic, visual experience through closed eyes. Thus Adams’ score most certainly conveys a music one needs to feel as well as hear. Indeed the hi-res stereo mix streamed via a portable DAC and decent headphones in pitch darkness elicits yet more details and associations (the same applies to Become Ocean).

This package is a shoo-in for my super six at the end of the year; I urge all readers to experience Become Desert - and its equally absorbing predecessor. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Pwyll ap SiƓn
Gramophone, September 2019

…The sound balance on this recording is excellent. It also features a measured and assured performance from the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Symphony Chorale under Ludovic Morlot.

Become Desert manages to capture the elemental breath of nature in sound while providing a salutary reminder to us all as the earth’s climate continues to change. © 2019 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Limelight, August 2019

The recording itself, made in September 2018, is pristine and the Seattle Symphony under Morlot’s experienced hand is in top form evoking the shimmering stillness of Adams’ desert meditation. © 2019 Limelight




Uwe Krusch
Pizzicato, August 2019

John Luther Adams has completed his cycle ‘Become…’ with Become Desert. In addition to his environmental approach, the work is also a homage to the Morave Desert. With its calm, wide sound waves and a sound marked by crotales and glockenspiel, the piece has a very individual character. The dedicatees of this music, the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot, present the composition in an atmospheric performance. © 2019 Pizzicato Read complete review




Mark Sullivan
All About Jazz, July 2019

‘Become Desert’ is both a celebration of the deserts we are given, and a lamentation of the deserts we create, says Adams. Like Become Ocean this recording was made in collaboration with the Seattle Symphony (and Seattle Symphony Chorale) conducted by Ludovic Morlot. It is a triumphant document of experimental music that embraces the orchestra, producing a ravishing, beautiful result. © 2019 All About Jazz Read complete review



Records International, July 2019

Another of Adams' large-scale nature-inspired orchestral soundscapes. Adams has relocated from the Pacific Northwest, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, to Mexico in recent years, so his environmental influences and concerns have shifted from those that inspired the astonishing Become Ocean of 2014 (10Q010) to the empty and encroaching desertscapes of the southwestern USA and central and South America. The processes at work in the piece are analogous to those of Become Ocean—a huge orchestra, swelling masses of sound, consonant, slow-moving chords in this case surrounded by an aura of dissonance… © 2019 Records International Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, June 2019

The album comes as a set, a regular CD for standard two-channel stereo and a DVD with appropriate scenic desert photo stills and regular two-channel or surround options. In either case the sound is magnificently done.

This is music that depends upon near drone-like sustains of layers of color-chords, beautifully orchestrated gossimers-become-glorious-formations at the peak of sun-sandiness. It is sheer sensuality on one level, brilliantly transfixing sonic structures that radically build out of a tonal assumption like nature presences itself in life itself for us if we are lucky enough to witness it.

Stunning. My highest regards and recommendations I give to this musical wonder. Listen! © 2019 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Read complete review





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