Michael Gordon Philharmonic: Ted Kuhn, violin; John Lad, viola; Steve Mackey, electric guitar; Ted Mook, cello; Evan Ziporyn, clarinet/bass clarinet; Tim Smith, bass clarinet; Vicki Bodner, oboe; Michael Pugliese, percussion; Lisa Moore, keyboard; Jon Fields, guitar; Michael Gordon, keyboard; Linda Bouchard, Conductor
Spectrum: Irvine Arditti & Miranda Fulleylove, violins; Levine Andrade, viola; Rohan de Saram, cello; Roger Dean, double bass; Philippa Davies, flute; David Campbell, clarinet; Yvar Mikhashoff, keyboard; Guy Protheroe, Conductor
Born in Florida, Michael Gordon grew up in an East European community in the jungle near Managua, Nicaragua. He studied composition with Edward Troupin at the University of Florida, and like so many composers active in New York these days, at Yale with Martin Bresnick. Playing with underground rock groups completed his education. That combination of influences allowed Gordon to cut through the dichotomies between high and low brow, which have imbued so many recent musical works with anxiety. Gordon’s music is wildly physical, yet well disciplined in its construction, disproving a widespread eighties notion that those qualities were mutually exclusive. Gordon no longer plays rock clubs, because he found that his symphonic forms outlasted the attention span of the average clubgoer. But his ensemble brings a raw, rock energy into a concert setting.
Few composers so justify the makeshift term “post- minimalist.” Unlike what we think of as standard minimalist fare, Gordon’s music rarely repeats itself; its dissonance is aggressive, and its rhythms are extraordinarily complex. And yet, it is stripped down to essentials in a way that seems unthinkable without the mellow patterns of Steve Reich and Philip Glass as precedents. The highly inflected repetitions bespeak a sensibility formed in the 1970s, but the music’s spiky roughness reacts against minimalism’s placid surfaces. Gordon’s aesthetic offers a logic of the irreducible, the irrational. Like an oyster coating an irritating grain of sand, he builds forms around sound-complexes that refuse to integrate, that remain inexorably what they are.
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Liner notes are accessible via the link above.