I'm yet again rethinking my opinion on words in music after listening to my new Billy Budd recording, where the diction is for some reason much clearer than it was live (maybe the hall?). But I won't ramble about it any more for now. I just got back from SF Symphony, where they performed John Adams's Naïve and Sentimental Music. It was the first piece by Adams that I've heard, and I was very impressed. The coolest part was the percussion score, which called for just about every percussion instrument I could think of and more. There were almglocken, which I hadn't seen before and can't seem to find any information on now; I guess they're basically pitched cowbells, but they almost sounded like woodblocks. The vibraphone and crotales were both bowed in the second movement, and I finally heard what it's supposed to sound like (really weird overtones), as opposed to how it sounded when I tried it. And of course there was the standard mix of cymbals, gongs, and loud drums to round things out; good stuff. Also, Adams was in attendance, and he came out and gave a 5 minute introduction to the work, with a few excerpts from the first movement played by the orchestra. It helped me a lot in figuring out what was going on with the piece. The second half of the concert was Beethoven's Violin Concerto played by Midori, which honestly was a bit of a letdown after the Adams (the orchestra was about half the size). It would have been better to program the Beethoven first, but I guess the worry is that people would leave before hearing the modern piece.
It's crunch time for research, so if you expect to hear from me but don't for the next couple of weeks, you know why.