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Andy Vores: Goback Goback

Vores / Kravitz / Bmop / Rose
Release Date: 07/09/2013 
Label:  Bmop/Sound   Catalog #: 1030   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Andrew VoresAndy Vores
Performer:  David Kravitz
Conductor:  Gil Rose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

VORES Fabrication 11: Cast. Goback Goback 1. Fabrication 13: Monster Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Gill Rose, cond; 1 David Kravitz (bar) BMOP/SOUND (59:44 Text and Translation)

Andy Vores (b.1956) grew up in Wales and England, where he received his musical education and began his career. But since a fellowship at Tanglewood, he’s made his home in Boston Read more since 1990. I remember an international competition in the mid-1980s where he and I were finalists, and he won handily. No matter how biased I can be on my behalf, I remember his work to this day, and its curious humming and buzzing suggested a distinctive ear and imagination. In other words, a very deserving piece won.

And those qualities have continued in Vores’s mature work. The pieces on this disc fall into two very different categories. On the one hand there is a pair of rather frenetic and wacky Fabrications (both 2008): pieces for large ensemble that have a “mechanical” quality, as the composer terms it. On the other hand is Goback Goback (2003), a song cycle for baritone on texts of the Scottish poet W. S. Graham that is far more eclectic and synthetic in its mixing of different elements, both stylistic and expressive.

The cycle is the heart of this program, a work about 45 minutes in length, in eight movements. Graham is a poet who speaks in both direct, seemingly simple language, and in riddles and disturbing, mordant imagery. The cross-cutting between these elements seems very much in keeping with Vores’s own practice, which can move from tonal to modal to highly chromatic at any given moment. The nice thing is that this variety never sounds like cheap pastiche. I feel the composer moving along a broad but very fluid and personal expressive spectrum. The piece was written when he turned 45, and Vores states that the poems’ themes of mortality and reflection synced with his own feelings at the time. These qualities of brooding and lightness are expressed by the music clearly and poignantly.

The two Fabrications are quite different from this, and from each other. They are a little over five minutes apiece, and Vores speaks of the series (eventually there will be 32!) as being music that is driven by strict processes and algorithms, a result of advance planning. Of course, such crazy conceptual contraptions can in fact result in music that has enormous dynamic energy … and is also extremely unpredictable in its result, if one doesn’t know the underlying strategic premises. That’s the case here, where Cast is a sinister, wheezing factory floor, and Monster is a demented jig/reel that is both profoundly dancy and undanceable. The freshness and aggressive whimsy of Vores’s persona are on full display in both.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I really like this music. It’s simultaneously tough-minded and playful, deeply serious and yet willing to puncture any self-aggrandizement. The performances are the usual excellent BMOP product, and the composer must feel great satisfaction that his vision is presented so clearly and persuasively.

FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

Goback Goback by Andy Vores
Performer:  David Kravitz (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gil Rose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Fabrication 11: Cast by Andy Vores
Performer:  David Kravitz (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gil Rose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Fabrication 13: Monster by Andy Vores
Performer:  David Kravitz (Baritone)
Conductor:  Gil Rose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Modern Orchestra Project

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