Frenzy, the new orchestral work by John Adams, is toured by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle in March, with concerts in London, Bristol, Dortmund, Luxembourg and Paris. Future performances are planned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
The latest work by John Adams, Frenzy for orchestra, is summed up by the composer as “a kind of ‘short symphony’, encompassing in a relatively brief duration a variegated yet unified symphonic structure”. The world premiere takes place at the Barbican in London on 3 March with Simon Rattle at the helm of the London Symphony Orchestra. The premiere will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and filmed for streaming by Marquee TV and the orchestra gives a repeat performance at the new Bristol Beacon concert hall on 4 March.
The London and Bristol performances are followed by a European tour by the LSO and Rattle, visiting the Konzerthaus in Dortmund (6 March), the Philharmonie Luxembourg (7 March) and the Philharmonie de Paris (9 March). First North American performances of Frenzy follow in a future season presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
John Adams describes how “Frenzy is an 18-minute orchestra work that passes through the various figurative states of the term as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘agitation or disorder of the mind, likened to madness; a state of delirious fury, enthusiasm; a wild folly, distraction, a crazy notion, a mania for something’. For me, ‘frenzy’ sums up the feeling, at times overwhelming, of contemplating the current world around us, especially as it is imagined in our daily doses of digital news and information, much of which we consume without regard to its subversive and subconscious influence on our mood.”
“One of the ‘crazy notions’ for me (and something as old as Haydn but new to my work) is a mania for the development of unique melodic ideas, a technique for which the Germans have two vivid terms: Fortspinnung and Durchführung. Starting with a brief quote from a moment in my most recent opera, Antony and Cleopatra, I take the motivic material through an extended hall of mirrors, transforming it, twisting it, turning it, reshaping it, remodeling it. Sometimes the tiniest of rhythmic motives take over, frenetically dominating the foreground and then receding, giving way to contrasting ideas.”
Simon Rattle has enjoyed a long association with John Adams’s oeuvre, from conducting the early minimalist classics Harmonium and Harmonielehre through to the rich complexity of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, included in a box set of recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic. John Adams comments that, despite the title of Frenzy, “the piece is not without moments of tranquility and good humor, which I believe befits the work’s dedication to my longtime friend Simon Rattle, an incomparable musician, a deeply compassionate human and, as ever, an enthusiastic interpreter of my music.”
Frenzy, composed in 2023, was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Philharmonie de Paris, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Gustavo Dudamel, Music & Artistic Director.
On 23 April the Metropolitan Opera in New York opens its first staging of John Adams’s nativity-inspired work El Niño, conducted by Marin Alsop, with a cast including Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines and J’nai Bridges. The summer brings two major new European stagings of Adams operas: The Gospel According to the Other Mary receives its Austrian premiere at the Volksoper Wien as part of the Vienna Festival (from 15 June) and Nixon in China is staged at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin by the Hauen und Stechen collective (from 22 June).