John's Dances are "alleged" because, as he says, "steps for them have yet to be invented". Hotfoot rhythms on a sampled prepared piano kick the gravel as we encounter streetcars in motion, furious cello triads being ridden "like a rodeo", a madcap hoedown, a swinging "Pavane" for Kronos's Joan Jeanrenaud "who's so fine"; then "a swinging scat song for four voices in parallel motion", a bluesy "Habanera", a tough-grained toccata, slithery harmonics for "Alligator Escalator" and a streetcar ride back to the ocean.
Adams's junkyard antics will have you cocking an ear, or dancing, or both; but not so Gnarly Buttons, darker music that takes an occasional glance back at Schoenberg's Serenade. It was written for British clarinettist Michael Collins - "whose way of playing most approximates my own ideal", says Adams -- and ends with a cool, simple song, "Put Your Loving Arms around Me".
The London Sinfonietta performs with their customary ease and facility and the recorded sound does them full justice. Another Nonesuch bull's- eye, then, and renewed confirmation that good new music can entertain without artistic compromise.
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