Turned loose on John Adams's surprisingly flexible violin concerto, the team of conductor Kent Nagano and soloist Gidon Kremer do justice to its passionate verve. Nagano leads the London Symphony Orchestra to the point of near-explosion as it approaches Kremer's sluicing take on the work. Kremer hits the right slipping scales and sometimes slashing skids like magic, with the orchestra seeping into the sound and leaping forward for Kremer to chase.
The sound is effusively rich and far distant from Adams's more pronounced studies in repetition and harmonic expansion. The rendition of Shaker Loops here dates from 1983, that is, it's in the hands of the Orchestra of St. Luke's rather than performed by string septet, for which it was premiered in 1978. While some prefer the economy of the smaller-ensemble recordings (particularly the Ensemble Modern's version), this Adams-conducted version has the force of a lurching train. It's dense and overflowing, repeatedly surprising the listener with its Trojan horse-like discovery of small innovations beneath the large-group expansiveness. --Andrew Bartlett