Featured Reviews: Spring 2009

Featured Reviews: Spring 2009
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Jennifer Charles (voice), Leah Coloff (cello, voice), Courtney Orlando (piano, violin, voice) performing Michael Gordon's Lightning At Our Feet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, December 9

Featured Reviews: Spring 2009

Michael Gordon
Lightning At Our Feet
"At times Mr. Gordon's score moved through stretches of dreamlike, sustained textures, laconic passages redolent of the Velvet Underground, hard-driven string figures and sections part sung and part recited by Ms. Charles in a pianissimo growl that suggested a connection between Dickinson and Leonard Cohen."
The New York Times

Bo Holten
First Snow
"...maintained the concert's remarkably high level of inspiration..."
Philadelphia Enquirer

Thea Musgrave
Take Two Oboes
"Musgrave is a natural melodicist with a beguilingly transparent handling of texture and a rakish, rhythmic flair. The richly contemplative Threnody is a case in point: a meditation for piano and clarinet which fuses medieval plainchant with syncopated interludes to create a unique form of Gregorian jazz."

Per Nørgård
Symphony No. 7
"As with its two predecessors, this work confronts the perennial challenges of symphonic writing head-on — its three movements (lasting 27 minutes) bringing a Classical rigour and focus to bear on material that, in common with Nørgård's music these past two decades, has an aural and expressive spontaneity such as offers numerous possibilities but also a ready incitement to listening: the expected and unpredictable brought into a poised and constantly changing accord."

André Previn
Double Concerto
"Previn's patrician mastery of a large orchestra was always evident; in short this particular ‘double concerto' (another from Previn for violin and viola is waiting in the wings) is a very enjoyable and likeable addition to the repertoire."

Gunther Schuller
Where the Word Ends
"Roughly 25 minutes long, the piece is scored for a giant orchestra that spilled onto a stage extension last night in Symphony Hall. Even with its considerable size and length, however, Where the Word Ends is light on its feet, full of tightly knit music that moves briskly...It's an impeccably crafted work that does not reveal all of its secrets in a single hearing, but it is clearly a major addition to the composer's catalog, brimming with musical ideas and a certain unstoppable energy."
Boston Globe

"Where the Word Ends, a 25-minute work divided in four sections played without pause, opens with a gentle shimmering trill in the strings before rapid figurations are played over bold statements from the lower strings and brass. The colorful, theatrical score builds in intensity to a riotous conclusion before an introspective Adagio with lush string melodies. The lower strings provided a steady ostinato pattern in the Scherzo, over which a flurry of dialogue ensued among brass and percussion and other instruments. The hints of jazz reflect Mr. Schuller's significant experience as a jazz performer and composer. (He coined the term 'Third Stream' to represent music blending jazz and classical "
The New York Times Review

Augusta Read Thomas
Helios Choros II
"Vividly dispatched by the LSO and Daniel Harding, Helios Choros II left a positive impression; not least in the way that, without a hint of self-consciousness, it brought to mind such composers as Jacob Druckman or the Donald Erb — composers whose distinctive orchestral sensibility has now been overshadowed by the relative vacuity of post-Minimalist and neo-Romantic idioms. Read Thomas has here struck a much-needed blow for change, and one looks forward to hearing the complete work."

"Bouncily played and enthusiastically conducted, this sun-worshipping piece gave us appropriately strong, bright colours, airy cascades and some razzy writing for the trombones..."
The Times (London)

Sofia Gubaidulina
The Light of the End
"The San Francisco Symphony's new composer residency program got off to an exciting start Wednesday night with the first local performance of The Light of the End, a potent and evocative orchestral essay by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina.
Gubaidulina's soulful, dark-hued music...led with vigor and commitment by guest conductor Kurt Masur, was...a glorious performance, marked by clear dramatic shape and a distinctive rhythmic profile in even the most seemingly unmoored passages."
San Francisco Chronicle

In Tempus Praesens
"Gubaidulina's instrumental palette here is vivid and dark-hued--the orchestra is stripped of violins, the better to throw a spotlight on the soloist--and her rhetoric is gripping. In Thursday's masterful performance, In Tempus Praesens came off as a work of gritty, mysterious force."
San Francisco Chronicle

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