“…But Not Simpler…” is on the cover of the current issue of Fanfare magazine. Fanfare also houses a collection of articles about Tod Machover’s music. Here’s a terrific interview by Carson Cooman that provides excellent background on Tod’s work along with some interesting observations. We like this:
Whatever the next directions his work takes, there’s no question that Machover will continue to remain a distinctive and unusual presence in the world of composition. The word “unique” is overused, but it certainly applies to Machover. No other composer has a career or produced a catalog like his. It’s also hard, if not impossible, to think of another classical composer whose work and research has been so connected with other disciplines and endeavors. Though he spends his days working in the high-tech environment of MIT’s Media Lab (with its new 2010 building), Machover’s home and writing studio are located on an 18th century farm in Waltham. And he makes clear that for all the technology in his life and work, at the end of the day he is at heart a composer who is still rooted in tradition. Like any compelling artist, the creative mix of past, present, and future are in a constant, ever-shifting dialogue.
Critic Andrew Violette reviews Tod Machover’s latest CD “…but not simpler…” in the current (Fall/Winter 2011) issue of New Music Connoisseur. The full review is available here.
We especially appreciate that Mr. Violette sees past the technology to the essence of the music. For Tod, technology is part Muse, part means, but never the end in itself. Mr. Violette gets it. He writes:
“No, it’s not the technology which impresses. What impresses are those non-glamorous, essential and not easily acquired skills which are rarely discussed in The New York Times but which Mr. Machover possesses in abundance: skills such as the ability to create resonant sonorities; a seasoned sense of the long line and the long form; a knowing use of economy of means; and a firm grip on Fux counterpoint.”
by Phil Muse for Atlanta Audio Video Club, reproduced here with permission
“…but not simpler,” music of Tod Machover
The iO String quartet; Michael Chertock, hyperpiano
Paul Mann, Odense Symphony Orchestra
I know I’m getting along in years when I start encountering composers that I’m old enough to beat up. In the case of Tod Machover (b.1967), I’m afraid I will have to spare the rod. Not that he isn’t already spoiled enough as it is by an evident delight in strange, rare and beautiful sounds and musical colors worthy of the early years of childhood. But in these newer works, all composed 2001-2011, he shows a mature awareness of form and design that makes them all memorable experiences – and makes us realize that great new music didn’t come to an end just because composers stopped wearing long, shaggy beards!
Of course, Machover is still himself in his never-ending quest for ways to make musical colors ever more fetching and stunning. But the controversial figure who was once described in print as America’s “most wired composer” has tempered the electronics in these new compositions in favor of the natural timbres of the instruments themselves, tastefully enhanced by an electronic element that creates a vibrant halo illuminating the natural instrumental sounds. Or conversely, as Machover describes what he does in his 2001 work Sparkler, the sounds of the orchestra “push, pull, twist, and morph” with their electronic extensions. At the same time, Machover’s controlled venturesomeness in terms of rhythm, tempo, and dynamics makes the music so scintillating that “Fireworks” would have been a likelier title for this work. Continue reading