There’s plenty to like in Will Robin’s recent profile of Andrew Norman for the New York Times. A couple of bits that caught my eye:
Part of the appeal of his music is a sense of sweep that harks back to the symphonies of Beethoven, whose orchestral writing represented a kind of public oratory. But rather than draw on old forms, Mr. Norman’s feverish style pulls concepts from architecture, games and digital media. “How we pause videos when we’re watching YouTube,” he said, describing his influences. “How we manipulate stuff on our computers that have to do with cutting things up and pausing them and freezing them.”
“By thinking of the orchestra as only a sound-making machine, we’ve actually eliminated a huge part of what makes a concert experience amazing,” Mr. Norman said. A laptop, he pointed out, easily supersedes what the symphony can offer in terms of sonic power and flexibility. “What makes an orchestra special, for me, is not actually the sounds that it makes but the fact that there are a hundred human beings doing that, right in front of me,” he added.
Both quotes seem pertinent to Play, Norman’s best known work (and one championed by Robin). While I’m cautious about any claims for modern classic status, it is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive orchestral works of recent times, whose choppy energy places it, to my ears at least, somewhere between Adams, Adès, and the Lachenmann of Kontrakadenz and Mouvement (– vor der Erstarrung). Plenty to like there, too.
A lengthy podcast interview between Norman and Nadia Sirota can be found here.