Four Thousand Holes is a sometimes lush, sometimes fragile, rhythmically complex and technically demanding work for piano and mallet percussion (performed by the extraordinary pianist Stephen Drury and percussionist Scott Deal) and ghostly electronic “auras”—electronic sounds created by processing the acoustic instruments’ sonorities.
Unlike John Luther Adams’s other works, the pitch material used in Four Thousand Holes is drawn exclusively from Western music’s most basic elements: major and minor triads. In this case they are superimposed upon one another in multiple tempo streams, creating a beautiful yet continuously fracturing sound world—from splintering glass shards to nearly seismic disturbances.
The other work on this CD, …And Bells Remembered…, performed by the Callithumpian Consort, is a more introspective piece.
“In Four Thousand Holes…John Luther Adams explores an extended progression of radiant, overlapping triads glowing with a resigned majesty until they support a slowly ascending line leading to an ecstatic climax that caps off its 32-minute journey. The effect is meditative and spiritual, absorbing, and probably in its essence more overwhelming than its modest scoring allows.” —American Record Guide