BMOP/sound, the nation's premier label launched by an orchestra and dedicated exclusively to new music recordings, today announced its new fall release, Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures. A versatile composer of daring creativity and unparalleled originality, Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) is regarded as one of the most important American composers of the 20th century. In addition to receiving the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Music, he was the recipient of the gold medal for music from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Music Council Award, and 20 honorary doctorates.
In this BMOP/sound release, six of Thomson's orchestral and vocal works are presented in a stunning and thoughtfully paced 58-minute collection. The album opens with the richly orchestrated A Solemn Music (1961-62) and A Joyful Fugue (1961-62), two frequently paired pieces forming a slow-fast, prelude and fugue set. In the following three works, tribute is paid to Thomson's legacy as a literary composer and the diversity of texts which served as catalysts for his numerous vocal compositions. The Feast of Love (1964) features baritone Thomas Meglioranza in a setting of an anonymous second- or fourth-century erotic poem "Pervigilium Veneris" ("Vigil of Venus"). For Collected Poems (1959), Thomson employed the contemporary texts of American poet and playwright Kenneth Koch in an animated duet for baritone and soprano. Featuring Mr. Meglioranza and soprano Kristen Watson, the music is colorful and buoyant, always reflecting the composer's keen awareness of verbal cadences and his talent for linguistic wit. The often overlooked Five Songs from William Blake again features Mr. Meglioranza, in a five-song cycle of contrasting moods, drawing upon the English poet's Songs of Innocence and of Experience and the preface to his epic poem, Milton.
The album concludes with Three Pictures for Orchestra, a full orchestra set comprised of three independent commissions: The Seine at Night (1947), Wheat Field at Noon (1948), and Sea Piece with Birds (1952). Considered some of Thomson's finest symphonic works, these "pictures" are unlike the tone paintings of Claude Debussy or Richard Strauss; rather, they are photographic compositions to be experienced in the same way one might experience a painting.
BMOP/sound, the Grammy-nominated label of the acclaimed Boston Modern Orchestra Project, explores the evolution of the music formerly known as classical. Its eclectic catalog offers both rediscovered classics of the 20th century and the music of today's most influential and innovative composers. 2010 releases include Ken Ueno: Talus; Dominick Argento: Jonah and the Whale; William Thomas McKinley: R.A.P.; Lisa Bielawa: In medias res; and Steven Mackey: Dreamhouse. BMOP/sound recordings have received numerous accolades including 2008 and 2009 year-end CD nods by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Time Out New York, American Record Guide, and Downbeat Magazine, as well as Grammy Award nominations for both Derek Bermel: Voices and Charles Fussell: Wilde. For more information, visit www.bmop.org.