Green Sneakers:, 2010

This song cycle for baritone and string quartet – a lineup somewhat similar to Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock's Edge – poses none of the harmonic challenges often heard in modern music, but the poetic content, also written by the composer, is emotionally daunting to say the least. The piece is an unflinching account of Gordon watching his partner die as his long–planned operatic adaptation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead was being born, in Houston and at Philadelphia's then–extant American Music Theater Festival. His descriptions of illness speak for their heartbreaking selves; even more searing is the author's guilt after the death.

So unfiltered is the piece that anyone who has trod parallel paths to Gordon's will likely encounter Green Sneakers not as art but as therapy, similar to John Adams' 9/11 memorial On the Transmigration of Souls. Gordon's music has an emotional restraint that leaves ample room for the listener's own comparative experiences. Baritone Blumberg has just the right touch with the music's highly singable vocal writing, articulating the pathos without overcooking it. Release date is Tuesday.

– David Patrick Stearns,, January 10, 2010