ALBUM TITLE: Gandolfi
WORKS: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
PERFORMER: Atlanta SO/Robert Spano
CATALOGUE NO: SACD – 60696
The Garden actually exists, in Scotland. Begun in 1988 by the architect Charles Jencks, its features evoke scientific ideas such as wave theory and super-string theory. Jencks’s book about the project inspired Gandolfi to pen a four‑movement suite, considerably expanded into the work presented here, including the self-contained Garden of the Senses Suite. The suite leads on from The Universe Cascade, which, in the garden, contains landings inscribed with cosmic events such as the Big Bang. Gandolfi represents this by a complex medley of quoted fragments ranging from plainchant to Miles Davis, Reich and electronica. None of this is as outré as the description might suggest. Despite the eclectic borrowings, the music coheres effectively and has an overarching bond with the great composers of Americana. The rest of the work is equally expansive and inquisitive, and Gandolfi marshals his materials with skill, never letting anything unravel. He has an admirable way with colour, rhythm and melodic transformation, creating music that is exuberant, compelling and entertaining.