2(II=picc).2.2.2 - 2210 - perc(1/2): 2 gong/3 tgl/3 wdbl/susp.cym - synth - strings


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Programme Notes

I began composing my Metropolis Symphony in 1988, inspired by the celebration in Cleveland of the fiftieth anniversary of Superman's first appearance in the comics. When I completed the score in 1993, I dedicated it to the conductor David Zinman, who had encouraged me to compose the work, and to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The Metropolis Symphony evokes an American mythology that I discovered as an avid reader of comic books in the fifties and sixties. Each movement of the symphony-which may be performed separately-is a musical response to the myth of Superman. I have used Superman as a compositional metaphor in order to create an independent musical world that appeals to the imagination. The symphony is a rigorously structured, non-programmatic work, expressing the energies, ambiguities, paradoxes, and wit of American popular culture. Like Charles Ives, whose music recalls small-town America early in our century, I draw on my eclectic musical background to reflect on late-twentieth-century urban America. Through complex orchestration, timbral exploration, and rhythmic polyphony, I combine the idioms of jazz, rock, and funk with symphonic and avant-garde composition. Mxyzptlk is named after a mischievous imp from the fifth dimension who regularly wreaks havoc on Metropolis. This brightly orchestrated movement is the scherzo of the symphony, emphasizing the upper register of the orchestra. It features two dueling flute soloists who are positioned stereophonically on either side of the conductor. Rapidly descending and ascending flute runs are echoed throughout the orchestra, while open-stringed pizzicato patterns, moving strobe-like throughout the orchestra, are precisely choreographed to create a spatial effect.

Mxyzptlk from Metropolis Symphony

No Venue (Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy)

Orchestra Teatro Comunale

Mxyzptlk from Metropolis Symphony

Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven (Eindhoven, Netherlands)

Het Brabants Orkest/John Axelrod

Mxyzptlk from Metropolis Symphony

Festival Theatre (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins

Mxyzptlk from Metropolis Symphony

Festival Theatre (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra