Michael Zev Gordon: The Impermanence of Things

Michael Zev Gordon: The Impermanence of Things

NMC Recordings
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Release date: 19 April 2024

Michael Zev Gordon is a composer whose music is deeply engaged with the subjects of memory and loss, together with a search for serenity. These themes are central to the three large-scale works which comprise this new portrait album, named The Impermanence of Things.

The album opens with a seven-movement orchestral work performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste, which explores our awareness of the passing of time. Time pushes on, time pulls back, before seeming to stand still completely as we journey towards the end of the work. The final movement shares its name with the overall title – Bohortha – which is a tiny village lying at the end of a remote Cornish peninsula, an evocative symbol of open-endedness.

If Bohortha consists of many small, contrasting fragments, the Violin Concerto is constructed more conventionally, with both the work's structure and expressive character being influenced by early exploratory sessions with the soloist, Carolin Widmann. Gordon has commented that he was inspired by ‘just how many nuances of singing she could bring to her instrument: intense and open, strained and fragile’. Lyrical melodies collide with dissonant clusters in this recording by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Catherine Larsen-Maguire

Conventions are again turned on their head in The Impermanence of Things for piano (Huw Watkins), ensemble (London Sinfonietta) and electronics (Ian Dearden - Sound Intermedia). Rather than playing the traditional soloist role, the piano instead acts as a linchpin, around which thirteen short movements revolve. Throughout the work, a constant tension between forward and backward, reveals an ultimate yearning for stillness in the present.

Gordon has been the recipient of the Prix Italia, and two British Composer Awards. Two previous portrait discs – On Memory (NMC D144) and In the Middle of Things – were both in The Times' ‘100 Best Albums of the Year’ lists.

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jukka-Pekka Saraste conductor
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Catherine Larsen-Maguire conductor
Carolin Widmann violin
London Sinfonietta
Ryan Wigglesworth conductor
Huw Watkins piano
Ian Dearden (Sound Intermedia) electronics



 'Right from the initial two-note figure, through the alternately dancing and stomping scherzo, to the finale, [the Violin Concerto] is utterly gripping." BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★ Performance ★★★★★

'Zev Gordon has an acute sensitivity to the interdependence of words and music, something never more elusive than when the music is purely instrumental.  Gramophone Magazine

'Widmann gives a committed and dramatic reading [of the Violin Concerto] ... Gorgeous' Arts Desk




Bohortha was recorded by the BBC at the Barbican Hall, London, on 3 October 2012.
ANN MCKAY Producer
SIMON HANCOCK Recording Engineer

Violin Concerto was recorded by the BBC at Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, on 29 October 2021.

The Impermanence of Things was recorded by the BBC at LSO St Luke’s, London, on 18 March 2009.
SUSAN THOMAS Recording Engineer

Release date: 19 April 2024
Catalogue number: NMC D277