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  • LAPA
  • Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in partnership with Deutsche Grammophon, present: The world premiere recording of John Adams’ Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? with soloist Yuja Wang
  • Apr. 3, 2020
  • This LA Phil commission was made possible by generous support from the 
    Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund

    “Adams wrote the single-movement work for Yuja Wang, who was the dashing soloist here … her faultless fingers dealing effortlessly with a solo part that hardly gives her a moment’s rest”
    The Observer (London)

    “It’s true, the ‘Devil’ is up to his old tricks. But what a devil! And what tricks!”
    Los Angeles Times

    LOS ANGELES (April 3, 2020) Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? is American composer John Adams’ latest creation for piano and continues his provocative exploration of that instrument heard in Grand Pianola Music (1983) and Hallelujah Junction (2001). Deutsche Grammophon’s recording of Adams’ first piano concerto in several decades is set for release on vinyl and as an eVideo on August 21, 2020 and will be available to stream as an eAlbum on April 17.

    Written by Adams for pianist Yuja Wang, this Los Angeles Philharmonic commission had its world premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall in March 2019. The orchestra, Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel and Ms. Wang returned to the iconic venue the following November to make this live recording of a work The New York Times has described as “uneasily fascinating … [a] beautifully disconcerting concerto.”

    As is always true of Adams’ music, an initial thread of inspiration – in this case the phrase that became the work’s title – is  woven together with many others, including Liszt, Ligeti, gospel music and more: the opening is marked “Gritty, Funky”, while the third and final section is marked “Obsession/Swing.” As noted by Musical America, the concerto “bristles with a percussive, highly rhythmic, technically fearsome piano part … [and is] an excitable, satisfying, boisterous vehicle for Wang and Dudamel.”

    Adams’ ability to deconstruct aesthetic clichés and bridge the gaps between different forms of music has earned him worldwide appreciation, as demonstrated last year when he became the first American composer to be awarded the prestigious Erasmus Prize for his contribution to contemporary classical music. 

    Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? continues his close connection with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Established almost 40 years ago, their relationship grew even stronger in 2009 when Gustavo Dudamel appointed Adams to the newly created position of Creative Chair. 

    Dudamel has championed the composer’s music for years, and his DG discography already includes the orchestral work City Noir, recorded at his inaugural Walt Disney Concert Hall concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary– directed by Peter Sellars and featuring an impressive team of soloists –which was recorded at the same venue four years later. 

    As for soloist Yuja Wang, she gives an outstanding performance here. With her electrifying technique, she effortlessly masters the intricate and at times exceptionally difficult piano writing, successfully weaving lightness and elegance together with dynamism and explosiveness – the contrasting but characteristic qualities of Adams’ music. Reviewing the premiere, The Washington Post lauded her playing, noting that she was “as impressive for her poetic sensibilities as for her pyrotechnic dazzle.” Wang’s brilliant music-making is ideally captured on this vibrant new release. 


    John Adams
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Gustavo Dudamel
    Yuja Wang, piano 


    1 I. Gritty, Funky, But in strict Tempo; Twitchy, Bot-Like 11:32
    2 II. Much Slower; Gently, Relaxed 7:08
    3 III. Piú mosso: Obsession / Swing 7:41
    China Gates (bonus track) 4:39

    April 3, 2020
    1st Single release: III. Piú mosso: Obsession / Swing

    April 10, 2020
    2nd Single release: China Gates(bonus track)

    April 17, 2020
    Digital release date

    August 21, 2020
    Vinyl & eAlbum video release

    For more information, please visit:

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of live performances – orchestral, pop, rock, country, jazz, blues, Latin, world music, opera, chamber, Baroque, organ and celebrity recitals, theatrical performances, explorations of film music, dance, comedy, groundbreaking multimedia productions, and an unmatched commitment to commissioning and performing music from the composers of today - at three of L.A.’s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall (, the Hollywood Bowl ( and The Ford. The LA Phil’s season at Walt Disney Concert Hall extends from September to June, and at the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford throughout the summer. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic, learning, and community programs. 
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