Adams ~ A Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986)

“A Short Ride in a Fast Machine” answers (in the affirmative) the question: “Is it possible to mimic a Ferrari or a Lamborghini in orchestral music?”.

John Adams
John Adams

John Adams has always sought out-of-the-box inspiration for his works:

  • Richard Nixon traveling to China
  • Robert Oppenheimer (the “father” of the atomic bomb) and the Manhattan Project
  • A dream about an oil tanker taking flight out of San Francisco Bay
  • The rhythm of the word “lollapalooza”

You get the idea. So, if you were to say, “Is it possible to mimic a Ferrari or a Lamborghini in orchestral music?” then John Adams is your guy. By his own admission “A Short Ride …” is far and away Adams’ most frequently played composition.

Like the Benjamin Britten¬†“Young Person’s Guide … discussed elsewhere the camera work in this video is amazing, especially considering the greased-lightning tempo of the piece. Watch how¬†the shifts in instrumentation are highlighted. The performance here is by Manfred Honeck and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,

print