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Michael Gordon; David Lang; Julia Wolfe - Red Poppy

Publisher: G. Schirmer

singing in the dead of night (2008)
Red Poppy
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Pierrot Ensemble (no voice)
Year Composed
45 Minutes
Programme Note
Michael Gordon; David Lang; Julia Wolfe - Red Poppy singing in the dead of night (2008)
March 28, 2008
Susan Marshall, choreographer
eighth blackbird
University of Richmond, Richmond, VA

singing in the dead of night by Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe is a collection of three works in five movements:
   Gordon, The Light of the Dark
   Lang, these broken wings
   Wolfe, singing in the dead of night

Each composer's contribution is meant to be performed with the others or by itself. There is no set performance order.

One possible performance order:
   Lang, these broken wings part I
   Gordon, The Light of the Dark
   Lang, these broken wings part II (passacaille)
   Wolfe, singing in the dead of night
   Lang, these broken wings part III (learn to fly)

The title comes from Wolfe's over-long depiction of insomnia, which is slotted, along with Michael Gordon's sardonic little cello concerto The Light of the Dark, into the movements of Lang's glamorously beautiful suite These Broken Wings. Marshall stages it so that both the act of playing and the instrumental relationships become edgy psychodramas in themselves. Virtuoso solos provoke envious, imitative displays. The amplified sound of sand poured from buckets drives you nearly round the bend, and the tensions deep within Lang's exquisitely Bergian nocturnes suddenly erupt in the crashing of metal objects to the floor. Scary and mesmerising.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian,24/11/2008
In singing in the dead of night, three sections by Lang surround movements by Gordon and Wolfe. The best music came from Lang (who won a Pulitzer for another piece this week). The bright and prickly mix of piccolo and glockenspiel and the complex rhythms in his prologue suggested Oliver Messiaen's birds with a groove, while the bell-like tolls in his central movement had the quiet intensity of poetry. Gordon's agitated movement pitted jaunty fiddling and woodwind jamming against a sliding cello, humorously sudden percussive clangs and even a touch of harmonica and accordion. The music had a tactile quality that merged comfortably with Marshall's staging. There were two especially memorable moments of theater. In the first, one player so loaded another's arms with metal cans and percussion that he couldn't keep them all afloat. They sprang a leak, falling one-by-one until they all went in a final tragicomedic crash. Played against the gentle music, the scene was charged with existential angst that wouldn't have been out of place in a production of "Waiting for Godot." The other great moment came as the players pushed sand around on an amplified table during Wolfe's movement to create an eerie whoosh; at one point pianist Lisa Kaplan's whole body rolled on the table.
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press,12/04/2008
Wit and whimsy - plus virtuoso performance and a whole lot of moving going on - are the calling cards of singing in the dead of night, an essay in serious fun in which accordions and harmonicas make cameo appearances. Wolfe's section, which gives the work its title, is a little long on Marshall's choreographed fun-with-pails-of-sand interludes. But the soundscapes are captivating there and in Gordon's "light of the dark" music and Lang's "broken wings" sections - elfin music to start, drooping scales to continue, and puckish, pixilated pep to finish.
Susan Isaacs Nisbett , The Ann Arbor News,11/04/2008
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