BBC Music Magazine: The best classical albums released in 2020

John Adams

Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?*; China Gates
Yuja Wang (piano); *Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Gustavo Dudamel
DG 483 8289 (Digital Only/Vinyl)   30:58 mins

‘Satan has proved an unlikely muse throughout musical history: from Liszt’s Totentanz and ‘demonic’ recitals to accusations that saxophones were the devil’s mouthpiece, composers have often toyed with the beast. John Adams’s 2018 Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? – a nod towards the 18th-century charge that non-secular music was irreligious – melds these ideas, combining devilish solos with toe-tapping melodies. The piece was commissioned and premiered in LA by Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Yuja Wang in early 2019; this recording is taken from a second performance given later that year.’