Michael Gordon

Van Gogh

Michael Gordon on Van Gogh:

I started writing Van Gogh because of my total love and obsession with the letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo. I made trips to Holland and Southern France, Arles and St. Remy, to explore and get the vibe of the area. I started working on these songs in the late 1980s. I wrote Borinage first and used to sing it myself.

The piece developed into a theater work and a collaboration with a video artist, and the early presentations of the piece were called "Van Gogh Video Opera." There were two complete original performances of the piece with video, one in Vienna and one in New York. There was a long lag between the early performances in the 1990s and Fall 2003, when the Crash Ensemble did it in Dublin without the video part, which I had eliminated. I re-orchestrated the piece for that performance, adding 3 instruments (cello, bass, piano). Alarm Will Sound played that version of the piece in New York in April 2005 at Merkin Hall after which, Alarm Will Sound suggested that we record the piece. I have always loved this work and Alarm Will Sound's performance and recording is everything I could have dreamed of - funky, passionate, and precise.


Alan Pierson, conductor of Alarm Will Sound, on Van Gogh:

The Van Gogh opera is amongst my favorite Michael Gordon works: it's hard-hitting, edgy, but includes music of impassioned lyricism. On first hearing it, I was immediately moved by the story Michael tells of Van Gogh's life - his adolescent anxieties, professional challenges, and the sort of transcendence that comes with his eventual institutionalization. Michael brings a directness and intimacy to the Van Gogh story by sharing it entirely through the artist's own private letters, and this emotional directness makes for some of his most powerful music.

For more information on this release, click here.

For more information on the composer, visit the artist page for Michael Gordon.

For more information on the performers, visit the artist page for Alarm Will Sound.

February 12, 2008
Cantaloupe Music
Michael Gordon 
Alarm Will Sound