Michael Gandolfi: The Garden of Cosmic Speculationby Robert Spano
Michael Gandolfi's 67-minute "The Garden of Cosmic Speculation" is stylistically all over the place (not that that's a bad thing), but it takes its inspiration from a single source, a sprawling sculptural garden of the same name created (primarily) by American architect Charles Jencks in the hills of Scotland. Gandolfi depicts various elements of the garden in his suite, which at its premiere at Tanglewood had nine movements, but which has grown to 16 movements for this recording, and the composer plans to continue adding more as Jencks expands the garden. The composer doesn't expect the piece to be performed in its ever-expanding entirety, and suggests that conductors pick and choose movements to form their own version of the piece. In its recorded form, the work is in three distinct sections. The first and third consist of brief, evocative mini-tone poems, lasting from about three to about ten minutes. The movements are strongly differentiated, colorfully and stylistically varied, so there is no opportunity for monotony to set in. They are all imaginatively conceived, rhythmically intriguing, with strong melodic and gestural content, and have an immediate appeal. Stylistically, the playful spirit of John Adams is frequently hovering nearby, but the pieces aren't blatantly derivative. The second section is less successful. It begins with "The Universe Cascade," the work's only serious misfire, which consists of a series of quotations from the Classics of Western Music, from Gregorian chant to Steve Reich, and which comes across as a meaningless jumble. The remaining movements of the section include cryptic ruminations on the six senses (the sixth being intuition) using Bach's harpsichord suites as a jumping off point. They are cleverly put together, but don't rise to the level of inspiration of the opening and closing sections. Robert Spano leads the Atlanta Symphony in an incisive, sparkling performance that highlights the music's color and variety. Telarc's sound is bright and full, with a powerful sense of presence. The recording should be of interest to fans of smart, accessible new orchestral music.
- Release Date:
- The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, for orchestra - Michael Gandolfi - Robert Spano - Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Performance CreditsRobert Spano Primary Artist
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