John Luther Adams: Four Thousand Holes

"Four Thousand Holes is a very different work, but, like Territoires, it plants a harmonic seed from which to grow the music. In this case, the seed is the final, vast E-major chord from The Beatles’ A Day in the Life (the title comes from the lyrics of the same song), and related chords. The Beatles let the chord ring out for almost a full minute; Adams takes the chord and reverses it, so that it builds in intensity rather than fading over the same length of time. At its very peak, the piano enters, playing the same chord, the electronic sound becoming acoustic.
This is the virtuosity that the piece demands; it’s never as busy or technical as Territoires, but, for the musicians on stage, it is an act of supreme listening. Every chord must be precisely timed to arrive just as the electronics dictate. The percussionist responds to the piano as the piano responds to the electronics, sending up what Adams calls ‘sparks emanating from the piano.’ Greenberg’s performance on percussion was extremely well balanced with Kigawa’s, always clear without ever dominating.
Adams’ work takes its time, and thrives in an extremely slow build to a grand peak. At the first climax of Four Thousand Holes, there was a palpable relief in the audience as the musical tension finally broke. I felt my muscles relax, without ever realising how taut they had become, and around me, I noticed several other patrons settle back in their pews.
At its conclusion, the music builds to an ecstatic peak, then returns to the bass register for a church bell-like peal around the E-major chord. Kigawa and Greenberg let the last chord ring out for a long time, and held still for a (welcome, necessary) half-minute’s silent reprieve before relaxing for applause.- Brendan Finan, The Journal of Music, IRELAND