Minnesota Orchestra gives 'Prometheus' concerto a fiery premiere
"What does a bass clarinet look and sound like? Even classical aficionados can be hard-pressed to answer that question. Hardly any concertos have been written for the instrument, buried deep in the underbelly of the orchestra.

One exception is "Prometheus" by American composer Geoffrey Gordon. First heard earlier this year in London, the work received its U.S. premiere Thursday morning at Orchestra Hall.

The soloist was Timothy Zavadil, Minnesota Orchestra's bass clarinetist. Stationed at a music stand, with his instrument perched on a spike (its saxophone-like bell jutting toward the audience), Zavadil gave a commanding performance.

Gordon's piece is based on a prose fragment by Franz Kafka, outlining four strands of the Prometheus story in classical mythology. In the first two, Zeus clamps Prometheus to a rock — his liver pecked at by circling eagles — as punishment for giving fire to humans.

Gordon found striking counterparts for these events in his fulminating, expressive orchestral writing. Spitting trumpets suggested the sharpened talons of raptors. Deep percussion rumbled with the dark psychology of predation and physical chastisement.

Zavadil's ripely rounded bass clarinet tone bestowed an element of dignity on the suffering Prometheus, tracking his gradual obliteration from public memory through a twisting solo cadenza to the unsettling memory-wipe of the piece's fade-to-black conclusion."

-Terry Blain
The Star Tribune: April 2019
BBC Music Magazine reviews Saint Blue...
"Geoffrey Gordon's Saint Blue is inspired by two Kandinsky paintings, All Saints I and In Blue and constructed as 'a sonic exploration of the sacred and profane,' with the trumpet deployed first as an instrument of heavenly summons, then as the bluesy soul of jazz in this complex, richly-satisfying work."

-Kate Wakeling
BBC Music Magazine: January 2018
English String Orchestra records Saint Blue.....
Geoffrey Gordon’s Saint Blue, inspired by two Kandinsky paintings ('All Saints 1' and 'In Blue', well worth a web search), is by far the best work on this engaging disc; a taut and exhilarating single movement concerto, wonderfully played by soloists Simon Desbruslais and Clare Hammond.

–Chris Achenbach
Classical Ear (UK): 30 April 2018
The Munich Philharmonic premieres Chase...
"Under the direction of the American conductor James Gaffigan, the Munich Philharmonic managed a gripping program that delivered tragic complexity. The program included Geoffrey Gordon's concerto for trumpet and orchestra, 'Chase', which the Philharmonic commissioned this year.

The sculptures of Picasso's companion Alberto Giacometti, which Gordon uses as a model for his trumpet concerto, are similar in that they are very dramatic in their proportions. A too small head rests on a scrawny, elongated body. Overall, the sculptures seem edgy and forbidding, a characteristic that can also be found in Gordon's work. 'Chase' is not a concerto that wants to indulge in virtuosity, but rather energetic expressiveness, which despite the modern language, is quite tangible and pursues a straightforward stringency. In general, the work seems to be permeated by a constant pressure that does not want to relent."

- David Renke
(translated from the German)
Bachtrack: 9 October 2017
CHASE premiere with the Munich Philharmonic
"The new trumpet concerto CHASE is from the pen of American composer Geoffrey Gordon.

Three sculptures by Alberto Giacometti served as inspiration, according to which the movements are named: 'The Walking Man,' 'The Standing Naked Woman,' and 'The Bust.' With much fantasy imagination, these models are brought sonically to life. In the first movement, this is done through repetitions and circling melodic movements, and most conclusively in the second movement, thanks to a sultry-erotic atmosphere, which is well-established by the dreamy-wreathed timbre of the Flügelhorn."

-Maximilian Maier
(translated from the German)
Münchner Merkur: 8 October 2017
FATHOMS world premiere at Carnegie Hall....
"The engaging and colorful 'Fathoms' links to the past with unabashedly programmatic, extroverted storytelling. Using a range of extended techniques and unusual textures, Mr. Gordon vividly sketches characters and scenes from 'The Tempest.' Caliban’s gruffness, Ariel’s quicksilver curiosity, the glowing romance between Ferdinand and Miranda all came alive in Mr. Moldrup and Mr. Beck’s intense playing. The final movement imagines Prospero drowning his book, with Mr. Moldrup gradually tuning the bottom string of his cello downward, creating the unnerving sensation of something sinking, slowly, to ever darker depths."
The New York Times: 18 December 2015
JACK Quartet and Anthony McGill premiere Gordon QUINTET:
".....the darkly seductive Clarinet Quintet by Geoffrey Gordon received its world premiere with the wonderful clarinetist Anthony McGill joining the JACK players.

Mr. Gordon’s Clarinet Quintet combines a similar zest for sonic experimentation with a four-movement structure built around thematic signposts — reiterations of an opening motif — that guide the listener through a colorful and atmospheric journey. That motif is built on accordion-like layered string chords from which the clarinet emerges almost coyly, with a veiled sound and sinewy flutter.

Across four movements, the interaction between clarinet and strings changes, with moments of bright commonality and others in which the warm, musky clarinet tone contrasts with the sharper and glossier one of the string quartet. In the third movement, small cells of players break away for a series of arresting duos and a trio that chart different interpersonal dynamics. The work ends softly on a languid low clarinet trill, which Mr. McGill played so quietly that the final notes were not so much heard as felt as gently pulsating airwaves."
The New York Times: 22 November 2015
World Premiere of Geoffrey Gordon's Duo Sonata for two horns and piano...
"Gordon opens this swashbuckling work with a fanfare of the sort that could signal a five-alarm fire. The two horns swoop upward again and again in arpeggios to plateau on intense trills in all three instruments. The three instruments chase one another upward in these passages before arriving in vibrating knots of harmony.

In the second movement especially but throughout the sonata, Gordon plays the master of suspense. He makes us feel that the music has a tonal center, but then he refuses to land on it -- maybe once in the last movement, and then not at the end. The relentless, subtle tension of that device is a big reason this music puts you on the edge of your seat.

So also do the many startling effects, the most striking being the machine-gun repetitions that Flint and Kimel miraculously energized with very little respite in the electrifying third movement. Or the way the piano seemed to tumble down a dark well at the outset of the fourth movement.

Flint, Kimel and Huang gave this music just the rip-roaring reading it needs. Exciting stuff."
Tom Strini Writes: 24 April 2014
Cellist Has a Fight with the Devil!
“Toke Møldrup was sharp and focused as a soloist in the new American cello concerto by composer Geoffrey Gordon, inspired by Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus”

Toke Møldrup and Copenhagen Philharmonic; Cond. : Rory MacDonald; Concert Hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Friday, Jan. 31/2014

"It's online where people get together and often sweet music appears. And it takes place not only on various dating sites, but also on a serious social network like LinkedIn. It was here that the Danish cellist, Toke Møldrup, met the American composer, Geoffrey Gordon. The music that came out of this meeting can hardly be called “sweet,” but rather it was an intense experience, as it was performed at its premiere in the ”Galaxy” in Værløse on Thursday and again on Friday in the Academy Concert Hall .

Sweet music is also not exactly what one would expect from a work that has been created on the basis of the Danish musician’s and the American composer’s common fascination with one of world literature's truly heavy novels, Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus " ...

The novel's protagonist, Adrian Leverkühn, gets 24 years of genius in exchange for his soul. Therefore, it was exactly 24 minutes of dramatic music for cello and orchestra, given its world premiere by the Copenhagen Philharmonic—which began the work providing a mysterious, shiny backdrop through which the woodwinds rose up like bubbles in a chaotic, creative, primordial soup, before dramatic percussion eruptions and brass-crested waves stole the show."
Politiken: 2 February 2014
Cellist in the Hands of the Devil
"The Copenhagen Philharmonic's solo cellist, Toke Møldrup, gave the audiences goose bumps at the world premiere of Geoffrey Gordon's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, inspired by Thomas Mann's novel Doktor Faustus.

Magical Tone Threads:

With long, deep lines from the string section, Gordon gave the audience chills - a mysterious mood permeated the entire 24 minutes of this work. The cello spun magical threads of tone against the orchestra's crisp accompaniment, while gentle glimpses of harp, muted brass motifs and incisive, well-delivered percussion broke the liquid sounds characteristic of this new work. In the concerto’s two furious cadences, the 33 -year-old Toke Møldrup showed his dazzling talent. Concentrated, he turned his gaze inward - everything was played by heart! - and conjured, with hands and bow alone, the virtuoso passages demanded by the composer. It was also a delight to study the distinct technique of the young conductor, Rory MacDonald. He seemed to have an eye on every phrase and embraced the band with clear and meaningful cues....

Finally, it was the cello concerto’s haunting and understated terror which stayed in the body long after the evening's last notes had faded out.”

-Christine Christiansen
(translated from the Danish)
Morgenavisen Jyllandsposten, 1 February 2014
American Recorder Magazine reviews Stanza della Segnatura ...
"American composer Geoffrey Gordon (b. 1968) is composer in residence for the Xanthos Ensemble of Boston and has written works in many genres that have been widely performed and acclaimed by audience and press alike. I have found his music consistently impressive especially in its command of timbral and formal dimensions, and his work speaks with an authentic and substantial musical voice. Stanza della Segnatura (2004) is a quartet based on frescoes of Raphael located in the Vatican. The four movements of the work represent the humanist quadripartion (theology, poetry, justice, and philosophy) as well as the four elements (air, water, fire, earth). Each movement features one of the instruments as soloist (the second movement is actually for harpsichord alone, which does not play in the fourth movement). The writing throughout is colorful, dramatic, and idiomatically conceived. This is another strong work of substance and integrity from Gordon that is emblematic of the very best of contemporary composition for historical instruments that should be embraced by performers and listeners alike."

-Carson Cooman
American Recorder Magazine: Winter, 2013 Ed.
Wincenc Leads BPO in New Work for Flute ...
"The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was in good form for Saturday's concert. Works by Sergei Rachmaninov and Emmanuel Chabrier bracketed the weekend's world premiere of a brand new score for flute and orchestra by Geoffrey Gordon. Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 3 received top billing, but Gordon's work generated most of the pre-concert excitement ... Gordon's work is a collection of contrasts that mesh into a whole. The flute is treated almost as an equal in the score, rising above the sound to make its presence known ... The music is active but not overly busy, filled with tensions but not congested. Sections of the orchestra are assigned roles that rise and fall within the context of the whole, sometimes climbing over each other in order to enter the fray and, at other times, cruising beneath the prevailing themes only to rise from beneath the surface to take their place alongside the other materials. In that regard, it was cinematic in the same way that a Bernard Herrmann--John Corigliano hybrid would be if it were drawn through that kind of lens and out of Gordon's pen."

- Garaud MacTaggart
April 8, 2013
The Buffalo News
International Trombone Association Journal: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra ....
"This is a major work for the instrument, well crafted, interesting and musical. It is technically difficult for both the soloist and the orchestra but at the same time idiomatic. This concerto rightfully takes its place alongside other recent music for solo trombone and orchestra by major composers including works by Christopher Rouse, Luciano Berio, Jennifer Higdon, Carlos Chavez, Jan Sandstrom, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Toru Takemitsu."

-Karl Hinterbichler
International Trombone Association Journal: Winter 2013, vol. 41, no. 1
American Recorder Magazine reviews Echoes of Ferrara ...
“Echoes of Ferrara (2005) is a three movement piece of about 20 minutes in length for solo recorderist (outer movements for tenor; inner for alto) and harpsichord, inspired by the history of 15th century Ferrara. The particularly rich legacy of music and art of that period is the source material (including extensive musical quotations from Josquin, Ockeghem, and Compere), which Gordon blends into an imaginative fantasy. This is the first work of Gordon’s that I have encountered incorporating historical musical material into its discourse, and these modal/tonal elements are seamlessly combined with Gordon’s own freely atonal harmonic palate…. This piece would make a terrific inclusion at an early music conference or as a general recital offering, particularly in the context of a mixed program.”

Carson Cooman
May, 2012
American Recorder Magazine
Tiger Psalms Chosen as a Top Ten Performance of 2011!
Fulcrum Point: Speaking in Tongues

"Just by definition new-music concerts are often mixed, uneven affairs but in this March program Fulcrum Point managed to deliver one of the finest contemporary programs of recent seasons with three world premieres. Most notable were Vivian Fung’s engaging Yunan Folk Songs and Geoffrey Gordon’s unapologetically 12-tone Tiger Psalms, the latter given a sterling performance by Julia Bentley. With artful, non-distracting projections, all the varied works received tight, full-metal performances under Stephen Burns’ focused direction."
Chicago Classical Review
MSO: Geoffrey Gordon’s Trombone Concerto, Megumi Kanda a hit
“Geoffrey Gordon’s new concerto for Megumi Kanda, the MSO’s principal trombonist, was a big success at Friday night’s premiere with the Milwaukee Symphony. The charms of this 25-minute piece are abundant ...The first movement jingles, squawks, cries, shimmers, and groans ... The second movement pits jaw-dropping lyrical trombone themes against ringing cluster chords, laced with harp and metal percussion ... and an epic coda blows the doors off the place!”
Third Coast Digest
MSO concerto premiere a tour de force for trombone
“You just never know what you're going to hear when a new piece is premiered. In the case of Geoffrey Gordon's new trombone concerto, which Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra principal trombonist Megumi Kanda premiered with guest conductor James Gaffigan and the orchestra on Friday evening, listeners got a piece that ought to come with the postscript: 'That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the trombone can do!' ”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Fulcrum Point premieres Geoffrey Gordon's Tiger Psalms at the Harris Theatre ...
“In an era of reflexive Neo-Romanticism and vacuous pop-influences, there are not many young composers today who dare to write uncompromising 12-tone music. Not only does Geoffrey Gordon adhere to a fairly tough and astringent serial style in his Tiger Psalms, but the composer also makes the music sing magnificently. Like Alban Berg, Gordon’s modified serialism brings an individual and communicative style to his tone rows. These three songs for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, written to poems by Ted Hughes, are bracing and pungent stuff, scored with a striking ear for colors and unusual timbral contrasts and combinations... this is a very impressive and significant world premiere by a composer we should be hearing more from.”
Chicago Classical Review
Boston Modern Orchestra Project premieres Shock Diamonds ...
"The 1st composition on the program, Geoffrey Gordon’s Shock Diamonds, was an endlessly engaging, technically flawless, and a beautifully unique experience. The work begins in the percussion section with inconclusive material that spills seamlessly and unexpectedly over into other members of the ensemble. As harmonies progress, certain points of concentration emerge amongst divided subsets of individuals while varied and lyrical lines are announced by solo performers. The melodic writing had 12-tone inclinations, but no traditional serial techniques were pursued. The harmonies remained dense yet beautiful throughout, and the balance of anonymous webs of sound with focused arrivals on single notes resulted in a very effective dramatic energy. All in all, this piece was a wonder to listen to."
Classical Voice of New England
Boston Modern Orchestra Project Enlivens Audiences with Five World Premieres ...
“Inspired by the beauty of science, the mathematically elegant "Shock Diamonds" evoked a metallic, faceted light that jettisoned like a sonic comet across the night sky, shattered into debris then, disintegrated into stillness.”
Berkshire Fine Arts
Chicago's Fulcrum Point premieres lux solis aeterna ....
"Gordon's opus for 13 players -- the Latin title means "Eternal Light of the Sun" -- tries, and succeeds, to evoke cosmic beauty in a dozen minutes of acutely crafted music. The sun rises in iridescent shimmers and sprays of instrumental color, now quiet and glowing, now fierce and eruptive. There is a sacred subtext but the sonic evolution may be enjoyed as pure music, complete with a bebop interlude led by two saxophones."

John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune
Rarescale Gives UK Premiere of Bright White Smooth
“Utilising the trade-name of his chosen music-paper, Geoffrey Gordon's Bright White Smooth is a finely-integrated assembly of gestures that reflects its inspiration in a three-part 'sonatine' whose sections blend imperceptibly into each other.”
The Classical Source
Interiors of a Courtyard a Mesmerising Work ...
"This is dark, haunting and brooding atonal music and is ideally suited to invoke the imagery of Hammershøi's works. The artist usually worked with a limited palette of muted colors and Geoffrey Gordon has managed to capture this very well in this most interesting composition ... a fascinating and mesmerising journey!"

-Steve Marsh
Classical Guitar (UK)
Classical Guitar
Early Music Now Presents Gordon Premiere ...
"Unusually, there was a premiere on an EMN concert, by composer Geoffrey Gordon. His four-movement Stanza della Segnatura is an interpretation of Raphael's Vatican palace frescoes, with themes of theology, poetry, justice and philosophy ... throughout it revealed Gordon's elegant, deep intellect in a neo-Baroque palate. It is the best new piece heard here in recent years."
The Shepherd Express
In Honor of Andy Warhol, Pop Go the Composers ...
"The stunner was Geoffrey Gordon's Cool RED Cool, for flute, alto sax, trumpet, two percussion, piano and bass, which doled out its jazz in mostly brilliant little flashes deftly bursting and dissolving amid a light fog of dissonance. Its inspiration was the 1986 Self Portrait, though one long stretch of jazz was lifted straight out of a 1950s Village bebop club -- sophisticated, chromatic and cool."

-Peter Dobrin
Philadelphia Inquirer
Lorca Musica featured on Centaur CD ...
“Lorca Musica per cello solo is the absolute standout ... vigorous ... longing ... remarkable. ”

Gordon Chamber Works Impress ....
“Gordon writes wonderfully idiomatic music, while earmarking his scores with an individual voice. ”
Salt Lake City Tribune

Geoffrey Gordon Composer

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Gordon: A Canticle in Shards
Gordon: Lux solis aeterna
Gordon: wrecked angels
Gordon: Bright White Smooth
Gordon: Fancywork
Gordon: La tristesse durera toujours
Gordon: Ink on Paper
Gordon: Shock Diamonds
Gordon: Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Cello
Gordon: Meditation and Allegro for Viola and Chamber Ensemble
Gordon: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra
Gordon: Abaciscus (for string quartet)
Gordon: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (after Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus)
Gordon: Duo Sonata
Gordon: Winterleben
Gordon: FATHOMS: Five Impressions of Shakespeare's The Tempest (with Prelude) for cello and piano
Gordon: Crucifixus (for SSAATTBB and solo cello)
Gordon: PUCK - fleeing from the dawn

Interiors of a Courtyard

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