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Steven Mackey: Mnemosyne's Pool premiered by Dudamel

(September 2015)

Mnemosyne's Pool, Steven Mackey's new orchestral work exploring memory and musical flow, was premiered in May by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel.

Steven Mackey’s new work commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mnemosyne’s Pool, was premiered under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel on 29 May and welcomed as "the first great American symphony of the 21st century" (Musical America). Named after the Greek goddess of memory, whose pool of remembrance was less frequented in myths than the river of forgetfulness, this 40-minute orchestral work is among Mackey’s most ambitious scores. It explores the crucial role of memory in the musical experience of listening and recall, as described by the composer:

"Syntax and memory can work together to create various shades of (dis)-continuity. The point is not to test your memory but rather to use memory as an expressive device in order to create unusual alchemies in the flavors of events and, more importantly, in the flow of events. In fact, Mnemosyne’s Pool is perhaps most palpably concerned with flow, that is, with various kinds of motion: slow climbs, sprints, precarious balancing acts, quirky dances, somber marches, and of course, willfully discursive zigzags in time made possible by memory."

"A dedication to complexity and a vast sense of orchestral coloration are the key elements of Steven Mackey’s impressive Mnemosyne’s Pool. It is in four movements for full orchestra and a battery of percussion and the score alternates between glimmering reflections, shadowy undulations, and jagged, hard-edged tonalities."
San Francisco Classical Voice

"Steven Mackey's richly allusive and powerful Mnemosyne's Pool, appeared to fully engage the Philharmonic musicians. Stunningly well-integrated, unfolding with logic and conviction, the 38-minute, five-movement work is more a concerto for orchestra than symphony. Mackey's marvelous score features vital and often lovely solo passages for flute, oboe, cello, violin, saxophone, an energetic passage for piano and woodwinds, and more. But somehow it never feels overstuffed, because Mackey consistently finds an appropriate musical language for his ideas about the role of memory in musical creation... To these ears, Mnemosyne's Pool is the first great American symphony of the 21st century."
Musical America



Mackey is currently writing a trumpet concerto, entitled Triceros, for Håkan Hardenberger and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, intended as a pairing with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.2. Following its premiere in Örebro on 10 December the new work tours to Germany in April including the Cologne Philharmonie.


> Further information on Work: Mnemosyne's Pool

Photo: Jane Richey

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