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Short Ride in a Fast Machine (Fanfare for Great Woods)

(John Adams)

This piece written by John Adams was commissioned by the Great Woods Festival for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra opening concert in 1986.  It is scored for a large orchestra and is a frequently requested and performed fanfare and encore in American concert halls.

Adams has described the piece as “running the gauntlet through that rhythmic tunnel” and explains the title with the line “You know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn’t?”

Although having been planned three times for Last Night of the Proms in the UK it has never been played there due to it being deemed an inappropriate piece because of the events that had occurred close to the dates of the concert it was scheduled for, i.e. the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 attack.  It was eventually heard in Britain on the Blue Peter Prom of 2004.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra recordings
EMI CDC 5 55051 2 (CD: John Adams: Harmonielehre)
Conductor – Simon Rattle