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For a more accurate representation of these performances' sound & instrumentation
as heard over a full sound system, listen to the audio samples with a headset.
 

All recordings  2002- 2017 Different Drum Music
All rights reserved (ASCAP)

 

 

 

 

ADAM LEVIN & PETER STOLLER

 

Adam on keyboards and vocals

Peter on vocals

 

Emily  (Levin)
Excerpts from Islands (including Modern Mind)   (Levin-Lobell)
Forever (But Never) By My Side  (Levin-Stoller)

House on a Hill   (Levin)

In Your Eyes   (Levin)

Let It Go  (Levin-Stoller)

Our Perfect Love   (Stoller-Levin)

Stand Up  (Levin-Stoller)

Too Far   (Levin-Stoller)

Walls Start Falling   (Levin-Stoller)

While Sunlight Slipped Away   (Levin)

 

 

Emily is Adam’s touchingly unsentimental historical romance and a sly tribute not only to Ms. Dickinson, but to all artists at odds with the aesthetic conventions of their time.  I think there’s more good, real music in the intro than many composers produce in a lifetime.  Not one to disappoint, Adam follows that up with a soaring, classic melody that takes the piece up to a whole new level.  Following the evocative funeral bells in the finale is In Your Eyes.  The song which first sparked my interest in joining Adam in these performances, this is the only real love song in the program, and it’s a subtle gem, capturing in miniature the stark lucidity that comes in those rare moments of silent communion between the closest, most connected of lovers.

 

Stand Up has such quiet power, I keep expecting it to be snatched up like a banner by all the world’s dispossessed.  This anthem for the mentally ill may be the most concise and convincing evidence of Adam’s consummate gift as a songwriter.  Listen to the way he sets up the simple grace of the song proper with the desperate, defiant harmonies in the intro and bridge.  (I am eternally grateful that Adam had not quite finished the lyric when he presented the piece to me, giving me a chance to horn in on his exquisite song.)

 

Walls Start Falling is my personal favorite of all of our collaborative efforts.  Simple, solid and wide open, the music is as inspirational and supportive as a writer or singer could ever hope for.  Indeed, I think more singers we know have asked to do this song than any other.  (The initial music and lyrics were written days before the Berlin Wall was torn down.  The events are otherwise entirely unrelated, but we found the juxtaposition interesting.)

 

Taking issues of human isolation and connection a conceptual leap beyond is Islands, one of Adam’s most challenging and invigorating works to date.  If Joe Lobell’s poetry in Modern Mind exhorts the contemporary artist to dig a well of inspiration in the morass of modern culture, Adam’s magnum opus engages in a bit of seriously playful one-upsmanship, daring the listener to keep up with him as, in Pandora’s Box and Testament, he takes us on a roller coaster ride through an apparently haphazard collection of themes that is ultimately revealed to be an intricately balance construct, bringing order out of chaos just as a kaleidoscope wrings symmetrical beauty from broken glass.  Joe tells us each individual is “an island in a universe of islands”; Adam shows us how all those islands are connected.

 

We move to House on a Hill, where Adam confronts his personal sorrow and frustration at the tragedy of lives cut short, and the fate of the abandoned.  The emotional turmoil churns in this work of seething complexity, a darkly and densely beautiful piece, and a deeply moving one.

 

Our Perfect Love is an unforgiving reminiscence of lost love and youth, railing against the years for their fickleness in passing.  While Sunlight Slipped Away is virtually Adam’s answer to that earlier collaboration.  But where I stressed the bitter in the bittersweet, Adam takes a more knowing glance over his shoulder, making his peace with the past while acknowledging the irony of indulging in nostalgia for a love that, after all, failed to stand the test of time.  The lilting melody makes this unabashed musical tribute to some of Adam’s musical heroes from his formative years as a songwriter particularly poignant, and inspired me to request that he include it in the show.

 

-- Peter Stoller

                                        (adapted from concert program notes)

 

 

 

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