Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony offer the world-premiere recording of John Adams’ Absolute Jest, commissioned by the orchestra, alongside the composer’s Grand Pianola Music, another SFS commission from 30 years earlier, conducted here by the composer. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony join forces with America’s most-performed living composer, John Adams, in a colossal album featuring Adams’s Absolute Jest and Grand Pianola Music. Hear Adams’s inspired and witty take on Beethoven’s spirited scherzos in this first-ever recording of his SFS- commissioned Absolute Jest. Also featured is Grand Pianola Music, with its tongue-in-cheek allusions to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, written for and premiered by the SFS. Both works speak to the deeply personal and vital relationship of some of the top musicians of our time: John Adams, MTT, and the SFS.
“[Grand Pianola Music] is an exuberant, larger-than-life freefall through musical history, the off-the-leash arpeggios typical of Beethoven's late piano sonatas bumping into Liszt then, controversially, ending up glittering like Liberace's candelabra…Absolute Jest is…an entertaining diversion and the San Francisco SO respond winningly to Adams's tailor-made if, at times, disappointingly generic orchestration.” Gramophone
“Here is wit, rough passion, gravity and playfulness...the dialogue between the St Lawrence String Quartet and the San Francisco Orchestra is brilliantly cogent and clear. Absolute Jest is a bravura experiment that will delight Adams's champions and appall his detractors.” BBC Music Magazine