Classical Ear UK
Mark DeVoto
August 3, 2015

In his too-brief career, the American composer Irving Fine (1914-1962), a star pupil of Nadia Boulanger and a founding professor at Brandeis University, brought the spirit of Stravinsky’s 1940s neoclassicism into several elegantly-crafted, witty, expressive, and vividly orchestrated works. In the Toccata concertante one can hear echoes of Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, but the assimilation into Fine’s vigorous and entirely personal style is completely convincing. The Notturno and Serious Song are more lyrical, sometimes with bitonal harmony, and remind one of the laid-back style of Walter Piston, with whom Fine also studied; Blue Towers is a football march; Diversions are related to the composer’s Alice in Wonderland settings which are very popular with choruses today; the Symphony is more chromatic and includes the composer’s adoption of twelve-tone technique. Gil Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a pathbreaking Boston ensemble, brings expert and fearless excellence to all this music.