Thomas Adès 40th birthday is being celebrated around the world. Two new works have marked this important year: Polaris and The Four Quarters, and there have been two retrospective festivals (with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Concertgebouw Orchestra). As if to confirm Adès worldwide status, Musical America have cited him as ‘Composer of the Year’. This month EMI has released a retrospective double album, ‘Thomas Adès: Anthology’, featuring some of the most high profile works from Adès’s illustrious career so far as well as the two recent piano pieces Mazurkas and Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face. EMI issued the following press statement:
EMI CLASSICS RELEASES A 2-CD RETROSPECTIVE TO MARK THE 40TH BIRTHDAY OF THOMAS ADÈS.
SET INCLUDES TWO WORLD PREMIERES WITH THE COMPOSER AS PIANIST
“One of the most accomplished and complete musicians of his generation”
The New York Times
Thomas Adès, the one-time British wunderkind of the contemporary music scene, turns 40 this year and, to mark the occasion, EMI Classics looks at his career thus far with a retrospective of his works, and to the future with two world premiere recordings – the three Mazurkas and Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face, both featuring Adès as solo pianist - all of which are included in this 2-CD collection. It displays the huge talent, accessibility and versatility of the composer/conductor/pianist, who has been signed to the label since 1996.
Thomas Adès: Anthology incorporates highlights of works composed over nearly 20 years and features collaborations with the Endellion and Arditti quartets, the London Sinfonietta, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and soloists Susan Bickley and Anthony Marwood.
Mazurkas, jointly commissioned by the Barbican Centre, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the San Francisco Symphony and Het Concertgebouw NV as part of the 2010 Chopin bicentennial celebrations, was premiered at Carnegie Hall by Emanuel Ax. The Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face is a co-commission by the Vancouver Recital Society, San Francisco Performances and the Barbican Centre and consists of four scenes from the high-camp chamber opera freely transcribed for piano.
From the earliest work represented, the Chamber Symphony, composed when Adès was still a student at the University of Cambridge, to the Mazurkas and Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face,composed in 2009, Adès uses his fecund imagination to recreate the world as he experiences it, with humour, fantasy, fear, horror, as a dream or a nightmare. Living Toys, for instance, draws the listener into a child’s world, while the intense and terrifying America – A Prophesy, commissioned for the Millennium, taps into the restless spirit of our times. There is no predictable Adès style; the composer invites audiences to take a magical ride through his imagination.
Although Adès’s music can be fantastical, he takes pains to ensure that it is genuine. “I have a strong, almost too strongly developed, nose for when something is false,” the composer said recently in conversation with tenor Ian Bostridge, “I can tell when I’ve gone too far and that form of sentimentality is still a danger. What I am obsessed with is putting one note after the other with a sense of the consequences that will build up as you do it and I just think it matters utterly whether you choose one note or another, but it’s not moral or political. It’s simply to reach the truth of the idea as fully as possible.”
Thomas Adès, a native Londoner, studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and read music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he wrote his first compositions. He has won numerous awards over the years, among them the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2000 – he was the youngest ever recipient - and Musical America’s 2011 Composer of the Year award. Adès’s work is highly sought after by the world’s major orchestras, opera houses and arts centres, including the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the Berliner Philharmoniker; Carnegie Hall; the South Bank Centre; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the San Francisco Symphony and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Numerous performances of works by Thomas Adès are planned for the 2011/2012 season: Powder Her Face (Texas) and Dances from Powder Her Face (London’s Barbican Hall); Polaris (New York, Lisbon and London’s Barbican Hall); the Violin Concerto (Brazil, Australia, Cambridge, Norwich, London and New York’s Alice Tully Hall); In Seven Days and Tevot (London Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Hall); and The Tempest (Metropolitan Opera, N.Y and Kimmel Center, Philadelphia).