Combining two of Michael Gordon’s most daring large-scale orchestral works, Dystopia documents Gordon’s dream of not only stretching the capabilities of the modern symphony, but in his words, of “exploring the gray areas between harmony and dissonance.” On its own, the music of Dystopia paints a picture of one city’s future — in this case, the city of Los Angeles — that is frenzied, chaotic, dazzling, electric, and ultimately ... loud.
Gordon had discovered similar sensibilities in composing Rewriting Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. “Beethoven’s brutish and loud music has always inspired me,” he explains. “At the time it was written, it was probably the loudest music on the planet.” Using one element from each of the original movements as a starting point, Gordon crafts a post-modern take on the master’s classical forms that managed both to mesmerize and scandalize the audience at Beethovenfest Bonn, who commissioned the work’s premiere in 2006. “I had tread on hallowed ground — no, I was leading the way into the future. Well, all in a day’s work,” he wrote of the crowd’s reaction in a blog post for the New York Times.
Taken together, both works reimagine the 21st-century symphony as equally reverent of the past (if not also a bit irreverent), while envisioning, as an Los Angeles Times review of the Dystopia premiere put it, “a drunken fugue of the future.”
Los Angeles Philharmonic
David Robertson, conductor
Jonathan Nott, conductor
Released on February 24, 2015.
Read the LA Phil press release.