American composer Michael Gordon’s new piece, Timber, is an evening-length tour de force. Scored for six graduated wooden Simantras — Greek liturgical percussion instruments used by French composer Iannis Xenakis — the work brings the physicality, endurance and technique of percussion performance to a new level. In this new work, Gordon shapes the music in both polyrhythmic and dynamic waves of textures — often each players’ hands are in separate rhythmic ‘worlds’, each traversing a different dynamic contour from loud to soft to loud, similar in some respects to his solo for percussion, XY.
Much of Gordon’s music demonstrates a deep exploration into the extreme possibilities and stunning nature of rhythm, as well as the enriching, yet disturbing, multidimensionality of polyrhythmic layers — what has been termed in his music to be, “glorious confusion.” Many of Gordon’s works, including Trance, Gotham, Decasia, and his most recent orchestral work, Dystopia, point to Gordon’s interest in complex rhythmic and textural territory. Gordon’s percussion sextet takes these elements and explores the extreme possibilities of rhythm and texture to a beautifully intense degree. The new evening-length work is indeed a unique and exciting addition to the world of percussion.
Presented with Crane Arts
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