A longer post is forthcoming about the two Concrete Frequency concerts I've heard at Disney Hall, but I can't let the night pass without a quick word about the world premiere of "Dystopia," by Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison. Gordon and Morrison have teamed up twice before: on "Gotham" and "Decasia," and the combination of Gordon's pounding, propulsive music and Morrison's shocking, frequently distorted images, are like watching a feature film on acid. Turning to past and present images of Downtown L.A. (where Disney Hall is located and where I'm staying), they effectively comment on the disposability of our urban centers (with NYC a rare exception) in the age of the automobile. The final sequence is filled with overlapping consonances and crescendos, accompanied by present-day images of men working the line at a recycling center. At the moment it started to feel a bit too-Hollywood, Gordon explodes the scene with rumbling bass drum and clanging percussion. A brilliant stroke, like the best of John Adams' symphonic scores. (In comments before the concert, Gordon said that it was Adams' who first encouraged him to write for orchestra, commissioning and conducting his first orchestral score in 1999.)
I spoke to Gordon briefly before the concert, and he said he'd been here 10 days. "I've been biting my nails the whole time," he said. "I'm looking forward to going home tonight."
I'm here through Tuesday, with one more concert to go: Salonen conducting Messiaen's "From the Canyons to the Stars" Tuesday night. He was in the audience tonight, along with composer-in-residence Stephen Stucky, and from what I could tell sitting three rows in front of him, enjoyed what he heard.