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Michael Nyman

Publisher: Chester Music

MGV (Musique à Grande Vitesse) (1993)
commissioned by the 1993 Festival de Lille to celebrate the inauguration of the Paris-Lille TGV Service
Work Notes
Also known as DGV (Danse a Grande Vitesse) for ballet performance
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
29 Minutes
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Programme Note
Michael Nyman MGV (Musique à Grande Vitesse) (1993)

MGV (Musique à Grand Vitesse - High-Speed Music) was commissioned by the Festival de Lille for the inauguration of the TGV North-European line and was first performed by the Michael Nyman Band and the Orchestre national de Lille under Jean-Claude Casadesus on 26 September 1993.

MGV runs continuously but was conceived as an abstract, imaginary journey; or rather five inter-connected journeys, each ending with a slow, mainly stepwise melody which is only heard in its 'genuine' form when the piece reaches its destination. The thematic 'transformation' is a key to MGV as a whole, where musical ideas- rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, motivic, textural - constantly change their identity as they pass through different musical 'environments'. For instance the opening bars establish both a recurrent rhythmic principle - 9, 11, or 13-beat rhythmic cycles heard against a regular 8 - and a harmonic process - chord sequences (mainly over C and E) which have the note E in common. (Coincidentally, MGV begins in C and ends in E). A later scalic, syncopated figure (again first heard over C, E and A) begins the second section, featuring brass, in D flat. And so on: the topography of MGV should be experienced without reference to planning, description or timetables.

Tempo changes, unpredictable slowings down, bear no logical relation to the high speed of the Paris-Lille journey, while the temptation to treat MGV as a concerto grosso, with the Michael Nyman band as the ripeno, was resisted: more suitably the Band (amplified in live performance) lays down the tracks on which MGV runs.

© Michael Nyman

  • Ensemble
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
    Kathryn Stott, piano
    Michael Nyman
  • Soloist(s)
    Kathryn Stott, piano
    Michael Nyman Records:
  • 26 FEB 2020
    David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
    New York City Ballet
    Daniel Capps, conductor

    Other Dates:
    27-29 February - David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
    1 March - David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, New York, NY

Danse a Grande Vitesse (DGV) is the sublime finale - Christopher Wheeldon's choreography sets up exquisite tensions with Michael Nyman's surging, propulsive music that the four lead pairs convey beautifully.
Siobhan Murphy, Metro,04/02/2009
Cool mystery is the mood of Wheeldon's plotless DGV, set to Michael Nyman's dynamic score. The ballet is distinguished by its sense of novelty and journey, by its dazzling aqueous imagery, its vibrant, large ensemble (26 dancers in all) and its altered perception of time and space
Debra Craine , The Times,03/02/2009
DGV rounds off the evening perfectly. The vigorous choreography, linear precision, clarity and images of flight are infused with a positive energy. The progressive rhythm sounds out possibility and hope, with Michael Nyman’s uplifting score speeding the company into the future.
Katie Colombus, The Stage,02/02/2009
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