Michael Gordon

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Michael Gordon
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Decasia
PERFORMER: Basel Sinfonietta/Kasper de Roo
CATALOGUE NO: CA 21008 (distr. Harmonia Mundi)
Listeners who have weaned themselves on to Reich, Glass or Adams may have come to rely on the occasional comfort zones to be found in their music. If so, be warned that Michael Gordon’s notion of minimalism is a rather sterner affair. Furthermore, Gordon’s uncompromising music travels less well and less often, so newcomers will have a certain amount of catching up to do. Decasia is a large-scale work, described as ‘an environmental symphony with projections’; it also functions as the soundtrack to a film of the same name by Bill Morrison. The orchestra (rather murkily recorded) is large and augmented with saxophones, electronic keyboards and electric guitar and bass, while the visual elements are tantalisingly hinted at by the few photos in the booklet. The music is described as being on the theme of decay, as applied to musical structure, tuning and, ultimately, ‘classical music itself’, yet the massive sonic edifices which are deployed within the piece represent this theme as a kind of magnificent fall from grace – if this music was a place, it would be the kingdom of Shelley’s Ozymandias. Rewarding but demanding. Roger Thomas