New England composer Charles Fussell has specialized largely in symphonic and chamber music that features voices, and he writes for the voice comfortably and idiomatically. He has an authentic gift for text setting, and his vocal lines are unabashedly lyrical and expressive. Idiomatically, Fussell’s music is eclectic, incorporating folk song as easily as serial techniques. His Wilde, symphony for baritone and orchestra, was conceived as a sketch for an opera about the British author, with a text by Will Graham. Its three movements, the second of which is for orchestra alone, depict three sadly wistful scenes from Oscar Wilde’s later life. The symphony is a lovely, elegiac piece with real emotional substance, and it’s orchestrated with magical delicacy. Lyric baritone Sanford Sylvan sings with warm tone and nuanced sensitivity to the text. High Bridge Prelude for orchestra was inspired by the poetry of Hart Crane. It’s more conventional in its language and gestures, but it’s a skillful and attractive piece of orchestral writing. Gil Rose leads the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in evocative, committed performances. The sound is clean and spacious.
February 1, 2009