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News - Festivals Premiere Michael Gordon’s Unhinged Expressions of Beethoven and Love

Peter Serling 2010
Friday, March 07, 2014
Two of Michael Gordon's major works for orchestra receive prominent premieres this spring: Rewriting Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, a piece whose name is as enticingly bold and provocative as the music is enthralling, and Sunshine of Your Love, a work that seeks to translate into sound the overwhelming intensity of love. Gordon's work has been described by Alex Ross in The New Yorker as combining "the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism."

On Sunday March 9, Nicholas Cleobury and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra give the Irish premiere of Rewriting Beethoven's Seventh Symphony as the culmination of the New Music Dublin Festival. Then later this spring, on June 3, John Kennedy and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra give the work's US premiere paired with the original Symphony No. 7 to highlight Gordon's "astonishing and poignant transformation of Beethoven’s extraordinary music."

Gordon explains why he chose to reimagine Beethoven's timeless masterpiece:
Beethoven's brutish and loud music has always inspired me. At the time it was written, it was probably the loudest music on the planet. The raw power of his orchestral writing burned through the style of the time...What if someone, while writing a piece of music for orchestra, just happened to stumble over the same material that Beethoven used? What if someone unknowingly used this material in the course of writing his or her new work?
From April 11-13, as part of the Minimalist Jukebox Festival, John Adams and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra give the US premiere of Sunshine of Your Love, Gordon's attempt to put the experience of love into musical language. Gordon explains:
There is a lot of music about love. I am not sure why most of it is soft and gentle. Love is one of the world’s most powerful forces. One cannot touch it or even be precise about what it is. To me, making a statement about love is to make something loud and mysterious and huge.

The title comes from a song by Cream. As a boy, I listened to their album, Disraeli Gears, over and over while trying to decipher the psychedelic cover. The dark, moody, raw music that accompanied this love song was a revelation to me.
For upcoming performances, please visit New Music Dublin, Spoleto Festival, and the LA Philharmonic Minimalist Jukebox.

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