We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Bowers & Wilkins website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.


Presented together for the first time here, Adès’s orchestral “trilogy” is given authoritative performances conducted by the composer, illustrating his development across just over a decade. Asyla announced Adès as a major new voice in 1997; building on its themes, Tevot followed in 2007; and the succinct, but vast, Polaris completed the set in 2010. Closing the disc is the captivating and dramatic miniature, Brahms.

Producer: James Mallinson
Engineering: Classic Sound Ltd
Recorded: Live in DSD, March 2016, Barbican Hall, London

First performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle in October 1997, Adès’ Asyla quickly established itself as the first big orchestral work of a remarkable composer. Adès was only 26 at the time of composition, but already startlingly aware of the musical world around him, of yet unsounded potentials in a large orchestra, and of his own creative strengths. The word “asyla” – the Latin plural form of “asylum” – has a number of meanings – places of safety (sanctuaries); places of confinement (e.g. madhouse); places of last resort. These numerous meanings are evident amongst the various atmospheres the music creates.

Around a decade after Asyla comes – effectively – Adès’ second symphony, Tevot. Again, a title with multiple meanings, the Hebrew word ‘tevot’ is the ordinary musical term for ‘bars’; it can also mean ‘words’. In the singular, as ‘tevah’, it appears just twice in the Bible in very special and similar contexts: for the ark built by Noah and for the reed basket made by Moses’ mother to float him on the Nile. These tevot are both places of safety – asyla. In the composer’s own words:
“I liked the idea that the bars of the music were carrying the notes as a sort of family through the piece … And I was thinking about the ark, the vessel, in the piece as the earth, which carries us – and several other species – through the chaos of space in safety”.

Polaris, the final of the so-called triology, has been described as “space travel in sound”. Steadily, through the first third of the 15-minute composition, density and dynamic level increase to a protracted climax. What might seem the goal is, however, only a station on the way to further voyage. Again, from the composer – “Polaris explores the use of star constellations for naval navigation and the emotional navigation between the absent sailors and what they leave behind…”.

The quirky miniature, Brahms, based on a short poem by Alfred Brendel about the composer Johannes Brahms’ ghost, and commissioned for his 70th birthday, concludes the disc.

Introduction notes based on the programme notes by Paul Griffiths.

Trial Society of Sound for free

We’re sorry, the subscription service is currently not available.


Subscribe to Society of Sound to download high-quality albums from Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and the London Symphony Orchestra. All available in ALAC 16-bit, FLAC 24-bit and studio-quality AIFF 24-bit. If you already have a Society of Sound membership please sign in 

We’re sorry, the subscription service is currently not available.

Copyright © 2018 Bowers & Wilkins. All rights reserved.