My Life with Albertine
PS Classics

Gordon writes beautiful music. About a year ago the composer/lyricist's life intersected again with CMU's College of Fine Arts. The 1980 grad was there because his life had such significance that he received an alumnus award. Other theatre alums came too, Ted Danson and Rob Marshall.

But you probably know Gordon's name less. He's got major credits, especially for vocal music, operas, operettas and song collections involving such artists as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw and Audra McDonald. And he often gravitates to setting poetry.

Back in 2002 he wrote a musical featuring poetry by Langston Hughes, Only Heaven (likewise on ps classics.) It played way off-Broadway, Dayton, Ohio. Last year this show opened in New York's actual off-Broadway but ran for less than a month. Thank goodness both scores can be heard by all of us. Each is worth the visit.

Again, as with Hughes, an eloquent word-artist is evoked. Marcel Proust. My Life with Albertine evokes his Albertine Disparue from 1925. Within the setting of Paris 1919, the score has the delicacy and grace you'd expect for the source, the period, the place. Impressions of Debussy, Satie and Poulenc waft through the gentle air. Fragrances of waltzes, polkas, schottisches come and go. So too do suggestions of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George. Bien sur.

The 12 member cast includes Brent Carver, best known as multi-award winner for his role in Kander and Ebb's Kiss of the Spider Woman. Actually the cast outnumbers the instrumental ensemble's seven pieces. But the collective sound has the perfect, impeccable, discreet resonance that belongs with such a work.

Perhaps it was too fragile for sensation-seeking New York audiences. At home, if you listen by candlelight savoring wine and perhaps a madeleine, you'll savor many degrees of taste.
- Gordon Spencer, Pittsburgh Magazine, August 2007