Short Ride in a Fast Machine

John Adams

Short Ride in a Fast Machine

About this work

Making up one half of John Adams's orchestral set Two Fanfares, Short Ride in a Fast Machine exhibits an unbound rhythmic energy and spectacular, kaleidoscopic color. Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony to mark the 1986 opening of the Great Woods Summer Festival, the work is appropriately celebratory. The composer notes that his work reflects the exhilaration he felt as a passenger in a very fast sports car; indeed, unbridled kineticism is what literally "drives" this work. Thrust forward by the insistent woodblock and the perpetual motion of the excited winds, the strings and brass engage in a four-minute adventure in percussive polyrhythms and increasingly frenzied exclamations. Because of this composition's aural thrills and intrinsic programmability (it has become a staple of the "opener" repertoire), it became the most frequently performed orchestral work by a living American composer in the last decade of the twentieth century.

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