“A big work with big ideas” – Opera News review

Risley, Orth and Harvey in Death and the Powers in Dallas

Risley, Orth and Harvey in Death and the Powers in Dallas

A pleasant surprise arrived in the mail this week: Opera News in its May 2014 issue gives the Dallas Opera’s production of Tod Machover’s “Death and the Powers” a glowing review. Writer Andrew Sigler praises the opera as “a big work with big ideas,” and notes that “Machover brings to bear his considerable technical prowess in the world of technology, as well as his deep sense of musical history,” to explore the premise of human consciousness merging with computer hardware.

Sigler writes that Robert Orth, in the role of Simon Powers, “embodied the character perfectly,” and praises Patricia Risley’s for giving a “smoky and sensual” performance and “real depth” to Evvy, Simon’s third and favorite wife. In the thrilling final scene, “Machover shows his operatic chops and Joélle Harvey’s Miranda all but steals the show.”

Read the full review here.


Reviews of “Death and the Powers” in Dallas

Nathan Hunsinger/Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer

Nathan Hunsinger/Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer

Congratulations to the cast, crew and incredible team that pulled off last night’s flawless opening night performance of the Dallas Opera’s production of “Death and the Powers”!! Much relief all around that the Operabots, moving walls and chandelier were all in splendid working order after three years in the warehouse.

Reviews are coming in! The Dallas Morning News’s morning-after review noted that the singers “get lines of remarkable naturalness, from speech-song to genuinely beautiful arias, duets and ensembles,” and said “it’s hard to imagine a finer performance, staged by Andrew Eggert and musically coordinated by conductor Nicole Paiement, with choreography by Karole Armitage. Both seen and video-processed, Robert Orth is a tour de force as Simon, his sinewy baritone faltering only in some low-ranging patches. Joélle Harvey and Patricia Risley sing radiantly as, respectively, Miranda and Evvy.” Continue reading

21c Liederabend (Reviews)

Last week’s 21c Liederabend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music garnered some media attention. Here’s the New York Times’ review: A Wink Toward Tradition in a Modern Evening. Public radio station WNYC provided a preview and aired “Sophia’s Aria” from Tod Machover’s opera VALIS. Listen here: A Modern Liederabend.

This year’s 21c Lieberabend included a performance of “Miranda’s Aria” from “Death and the Powers,” performed by Sara Heaton, who performed the role in Boston and Chicago. Here’s a video of the original performance by Joélle Harvey in Monaco. She will return as Miranda in the Dallas Opera’s production next February.

The Scotsman reviews “Festival City”

“Festival City”, which received its world premiere on August 27th at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, garnered a favorable notice in The Scotsman:

Machover’s new work – a moody soundscape combining recorded audio bites of Edinburgh with bristling, atmospheric live orchestral impressions, and created from material submitted over the internet – was anything but gimmicky. Driven by an underlying drone, suggestive of bagpipes, its success lay in the composer’s ability to mesh the electronic elements in such a way that distinguishing them was often impossible – bird calls intertwining with flute, strings, pre-recorded children’s voices as real as the instruments on stage.

Read the full review here: Music review: RSNO: City Noir

Reviews: Hyperstring Trilogy

We set up this page to index reviews of Tod Machover’s “Hyperstring Trilogy” CD. Please let us know if you come across additional reviews. Thanks!

“It’s very imaginative and compelling music and a thrill to play for the performer.” – Matt Haimovitz in an interview, speaking about “Begin Again Again”

Boston Globe – Review of Hyperstring Trilogy (reposted by ArkivMusic) – “The 70-minute Hyperstring Trilogy has been recognized as one of Machover’s most important works. The three pieces which make up the trilogy, Begin Again Again… for Hypercello Solo (1991), Song of Penance for Hyperviola, Computer Voice, and 17 Instruments (1992) and Forever and Ever for Hyperviolin and Chamber Orchestra (1993) are loosely based on the dramatic and psychological sweep of Dante’s Divine Comedy, they explore loss and gain, pain and recovery, despair and hope and, in passing, what is lost and gained by technology. “Players Humanize Techno ‘Trilogy’: No praise can be too high for conductor Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, for the computer team, for soprano Bennett, and for the three hypersoloists, cellist Matt Haimovitz, violist Kim Kashkashian, and vioinist Ani Kavafian, in a part of almost unbelievable difficulty.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer – Tod Machover: Hyperstring Trilogy (re-posted by BMOP) – by David Patrick Stearns. “The music on this disc is so good, you’d be tempted to proclaim it one of the best new-music discs of the decade were the pieces not 10 or more years old. Continue reading

Reviews: “…but not simpler…”

We set up this page to index reviews of Tod Machover’s CD “…but not simpler…”. Please let us know if you come across others. Thank you!
Machover CD an “absolutely stunning experience” – “Machover’s exquisite attention to line and form is most evident in the trio of splendid short works for string quartet…” In “Jeux Deux“, “Machover utilizes his “hyperpiano” concept, in which the grand piano, played with consummate sensitivity by Paul Chertock, interacts with the Yamaha Disklavier in a way that augments, transforms and splinters the music, sometimes releasing a volley of pre-composed notes in greater profusion and rapidity than a live pianist could possibly play them. The result is an absolutely stunning experience for performer and listener alike.”
Gramophone – Review of the CD “…but not simpler…” – “Among the inventions that take sound to previously unexplored terrain are his Hyperinstruments and Hyperorchestra, which promote sonic variety and boost virtuosity. Rather than gimmicks, these advances have crucial and winning impacts on the expressive possibilities in Machover’s music, as can be heard on this absorbing disc. Unless you’ve heard this composer’s music before, you’ve never experienced anything like these pieces.”
AllMusic.com – Review of Tod Machover’s …but not simpler… – “…Machover never loses sight of the emotional side of music that engages the listener naturally, viscerally…For anyone who is tempted to dismiss all modern music as “strange” or inaccessible, this album will prove him or her wrong. Machover seems to have struck the right balance between conceptual art and music at its purest level of feeling.”
New Music Connoisseur – Andrew Violette review “…but not simpler…” (PDF) – “Sparkler (2007) sparkles. There’s a wealth of color-drenched details: virtuosic wind passages juxtaposed with high string sonorities and untuned metallic percussion…” “.. .but not simpler (2005) is a stringent 15 minute work for string quartet. lt stylistically veers toward the Peter Maxwell Davies Naxos Quartets. But Machover’s writing is more gesturally nuanced and harmonically colorful…” “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.”
Fanfare – Feature Reviews by David DeBoor Canfield (scroll down) – “The recent works on the Bridge CD seem to me to veer into masterpiece territory, achieving a synthesis and fluency of styles that yield a remarkably personal voice.”

Audiophile Audition – TOD MACHOVER: ‘…but not simpler…’ & other works – Bridge Records – “I knew just enough about the work of Tod Machover to have a generally positive opinion and to think that I knew his “style” with its heavy reliance on electronics (as one writer declared him to be “America’s most wired composer.”) However, I am grateful for hearing this album and learning more about the very complex but fascinating nature of his work. ”

NPR Weekend Edition: From Hyperpianos To Harmonious Handel: New Classical Albums “MIT futurologist Tod Machover rethinks traditional instruments, coming up with new things like the hyperpiano; Pianist Michael Chertock gives it a go in an explosive excerpt [of “Jeux Deux”].”

Sequenza21 – Tod Machover: …but not simpler… “The string quartet portion of the disc is very well handled. Two interludes, one based on Bach and the other on Byrd, are fixed media pieces meant to sound like an augmented string quartet. The textures to both of these pieces is interesting and each interlude matches up well with the following acoustic piece. The timbre of the instruments does have an edge to it that denies a purely acoustic origin. Instead of the thickening texture emerging as a surprise, an unexpected moment of “I thought I was listening to just four people,” that virtual instrument sound serves as an aural obligation for the work to build into something that the performers alone could not create.
When Machover is entirely acoustic, the pieces work quite well. The 3 Hyper-Dim-Sums are charming miniatures for string quartet, played with vigor and nuance by the iO Quartet. …but not simpler… transitions beautifully from the Byrd interlude and continues to be colorful and engaging. Machover certainly knows color and he uses all means of string sounds in this floating 14 minute movement.”

New Music Connoisseur reviews “…but not simpler…”

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.”