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Terry Riley - Kronos Quartet: Requiem For Adam CD (album) cover


Terry Riley


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4.08 | 5 ratings

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4 stars Adam Harrington, son of the violinist David Harrington, was sixteen when he suddenly died for a blood clot. This is a requiem written by Terry Riley in his memory and performed by the Kronos Quartet, a strings ensemble of which David Harrington is a member.

There's much of classic contemporary in this composition, in the darkest passages it reminds to authors like the Estonian Arvo Part, but in the same time it keeps the minimalistic approach of Terry Riley. 40 years are passed since "In C", but the trademark of the American genius is still evident.

The Requiem is divided in three parts, then the fourth track is a piano solo and the only track performed by Terry Riley.

The first movement is based on a sequence of four notes continuously ascending. This music is full of melancholy, at 2:30 minutes there's a pizzicato that gives the impression of somebody climbing a stair. The tempo increases as well as the dissonances that are the ony thing that identifies the epoch of the composition. Without dissonances this string quartet could seem baroque. After the pizzicato the music gets its identity. Of course there's not a melody. It works as a succession of moments/motifs, which raise to compulsive or quiet down to contemplative. Close your eyes and watch Adam following his path.

The second movement, "Cortejo Funebre en el monte Diablo" translated means "Funeral Procession to the Devil's Mountain", that's the place where Adam died. This movement starts with chaotic percussions. It has to be dark, but the brasses make it grotesque. Terry Riley clarified that he was inspired by Jazz funeral marches in the New Orleans stile. If the purpose was giving the idea of a procession he has met his target. A weird procession of grotesque figures, like in some medieval representations of Death.

The third movement is the proper Requiem. The two pizzicato notes represent the sillabes of Adamd's name....imagine the violin crying A-dam, A-dam.... The glissato of the other strings works as a lament. A very dark composition on which the violin cries all its pain (don't forget that the violinist is the dead boy's father). The fiddlestick is like a saw which saws out the pain. To be honest I don't know how much this album can fit into PA, as it's mainly contemporary classic, but it's so intense and emotional that I think any progger can enjoy it if it's approached in the right moment.

"The Philosopher Hand" is a very sad piano composition written and performed by Terry Riley. The story is that at the time of Adam's death Riley was working on a tribute to the Indian philosopher Pandit Pran Nath. This man attended to the Funeral and took David Harrington's head. He later said that it was the softer hand he had ever held. This episode is what inspired this slow, sad and intense piano piece.

A masterpiece of calssic contemporary, not of prog rock, but it can be an excellent addition. 5 stars if this was a classical music site. Here just 4.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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