Norman: Play

Album review
Norman: Play



Label: BMOP
Media: SACD
Genre: Classical

What would the music sound like if the composer thought of the orchestra not as an ensemble of carefully balanced instrumental voices, but rather as a marvelous noise-making toy? Andrew Norman’s three-movement, three- quarter-hour-long Play (2013) is his answer to that question: a symphonic enactment of a gargantuan sonic pinball machine undergoing an extended sequence of violent (but subtly organized) mood swings. With its agglomerations of thrashing fury, quicksilver scales that swarm and collide like particles in a nuclear accelerator, viscous microtonal slitherings, and whispered glacial chorales unpredictably riven by gaping silences and pounding outbursts, Play encompasses breathless chaos, kinetic energy, spectral quiverings, austere transparency pared down to zoned-out stasis, and, at the work’s long-prepared-for, near-the- end climax, triumphant (and somehow unmistakably American) exuberance. The BMO plays this monsterpiece with commitment and virtuosity, captured in a superbly engineered rendering that lays all out before you in a three-dimensional diorama. If you’ve tired of minimalism, here’s your antidote: the newest and most extravagant maximalist magnum opus— more evidence of William Gibson’s reminder, “The future is already here— it’s just not evenly distributed.” 

More Info

  • primary artist, Boston Modern Orchestra
  • group member, Gil Rose
  • SACD

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