A wonderful tensile energy operates on a subliminal aural screen behind the main episodes in Boston-based Scott Wheeler's music; perhaps they are musical particle traces of the dancers' and singers' bodies 'that are the medium for the stage composer's work', as Wheeler modestly describes himself in the booklet-notes. In fact, Wheeler turns out to be a highly effective composer of classical music by virtue of a vivid aural imagination whose ingenious, garrulous products he crafts into absorbing symphonic soundscapes that make the hip Boston Modern Orchestra Project sound great.
Hungarian music, Liszt once wrote, “is divided naturally into melody destined for song or melody for the dance.” Saturday’s ambitious “Magyar Madness” program, presented by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, had representatives of both. It also had two alluring world premieres.
Though the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s “Magyar Madness” certainly delivered on the first word by presenting four works of Hungarian or Hungarian-descended composers including two premieres at Jordan Hall on Friday, we’ll give BMOP a pass on “Madness,” as the alliterative sobriquet was oxymoronic considering the event’s rock-solidity.
... Speaking of energizing, we also have the debut recording of up-and-coming composer Andrew Norman's symphonic essay Play (which you can read more about in our Composer Spotlight post on Mr. Norman). ...
1.) Maurizio Pollini, Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Opp. 31 & 49
2.)Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Andrew Norman: Play
3.) Steve Reich, Radio Rewrite
4.) New York Philharmonic, Hadyn, Christopher Rouse, Wagner
5.) Wadada Leo Smith, Ishmail Wadada Leo Smith: Taif – Prayer in the Garden of Hijaz (Live)
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, having promised a night of “Magyar Madness” Saturday at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, delivered world premieres of two outstanding, if well-behaved, works by Boston-based composers of Hungarian birth or ancestry and of Generation X vintage. The madness was supplied by the old-timers, Béla Bartók and Gyorgy Ligeti.
Crazy or sane, violent or poetic, all the music in Saturday’s concert touched on Hungary’s distinctive culture as a place apart, isolated by geography and language, yet also bubbling with a mix of European and Asiatic influences.
Every six weeks on BPR, we invite our music experts on the show to give us a preview of the shows to come. Here are recommendations from WCRB host Brian McCreath, Berklee College of Music's Rob Hochschild, and WGBH's own Edgar B. Herwick III from Curiosity Desk to help cut through the dark of winter.
- "Defiant Requiem," Tuesday, January 27th at Symphony Hall, Boston. Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Orchestra of Terezin Remembrance, Murray Sidlin.
Composer Kati Agócs was born in 1975 in Windsor, Ontario, to a Hungarian father and American mother. Her music — spacious and elegant, even in its knottier episodes — reflects and refracts this polyglot background. But there is a special quality that her Eastern European background lends to her music.
Imagine the orchestra as this sort of complicated 19th-century futurist machine, all moving parts and cogs and gears, and little people. I find that sort of fascinating. But every now and then, I just want to throw a wrench in and see what will happen.
Andrew Norman is ready to show you — at least through sound — just what happens when he tosses a wrench or two onto the concert stage.
Kati Agócs, whose The Debrecen Passion comes to Boston Modern Orchestra Project this Saturday night, has been making quite an impression on the global music community. But beyond her extensive curriculum vitae and skill as a composer, Kati is also a warm and compassionate person, extremely self-actualized with a fluid ability to describe her experience.
What is the worst thing that would happen if you publicly admitted to being in throbbing love with the oeuvre of Phil Collins or the decidedly non-artisanal bite of Evan Williams bourbon? The pasty guy at the record store counter may mutter, “Typical…”, but it would be freeing, right? Andrew Norman’s Play is no such “guilty” pleasure, but the score reads as though written by a composer unrestrained by any hint of self-consciousness. It is also one that is acutely aware that audiences trek in and shell out bills to see a show not to hear music, but to watch it performed.
San Diego jazz musicians made some excellent recordings in 2014, several of which could easily make an argument for the No. 1 position on this “best-of” compilation. I always agonize on how to rate them, and ultimately, it’s never an easy decision. In the end, I’ve got to go with what floored me the hardest. In that respect, I’m comfortable with the Top 2 in that order, and I could probably vacillate on the relative placement of the others until 2015. Oh, wait -- I already did that! So here are my favorite San Diego jazz recordings of last year.
Although most readily associated with the mid-20th century ascendancy of serial composition in America, Milton Babbitt’s work remains exemplary of a kind of music that even into the 21st century remains challenging and ultimately rewarding to listen to.
BMOP expands the Berger discography with chamber music. The three Yeats poems require female voice plus trio of flute, clarinet and cello. Chamber Music and Septet make explicit their numbers. Berger’s notes reveal his struggles to forge an American serial style outside of Stravinsky’s influence. Chamber Music is one of the results of that development, an elegant combination which looks to Webern. Profoundly evident in these lucid works is Berger’s splendid handling of sonority.
In this program’s balance of modern alongside old, we learn that Druckman knows how to manage foreground and background. Druckman was also alert to his place in history. It instills his music with confidence. In the notes, La Folia contributor Dan Albertson identifies similarities to Lutosławski’s orchestration and language. Dutilleux, another master of transparency across multiple layers, came to mind. That Quickening Pulse provides a feisty concert opener with dissonant fanfares.
Scott Wheeler (b. 1952) has been a continual "point of reference" for new music in Boston for decades, as composer, conductor, teacher. He has an enviable (and enviably diverse) set of teachers, including Lewis Spratlan, Arthur Berger, Olivier Messiaen, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Virgil Thomson! His own baseline aesthetic is what one might call neoclassical, but as the above list of mentors suggests, it is not some sort of throwback to the 1940s.
I met Babbitt once. We shook hands as I received an award, one student among many others on a winter afternoon a long time ago. Babbitt was a great raconteur. However, the anecdotes I heard are not suitable for print. He wrote dense articles, and yet his music can have straightforward elegance (Composition for Twelve Instruments) or humor (All Set). Truly, All Set is a snazzy 12-tone piece for jazz ensemble. Were it scored for a Pierrot ensemble it might seem bone dry, and if a jazz combo were provided atonal charts, this wouldn’t be the result.
Then only a couple of weeks later, Rose was back with his Boston Modern Orchestra Project in an utterly delightful, imaginatively-costumed concert version of Tobias Picker’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” perhaps a little too grown-up for some of the many youngsters in the audience, but delicious for the grown-ups themselves, full of wittily suggestive verbal and musical jokes.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of champions for contemporary music and we have a great one in our midst, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project led by Gil Rose. If Bernstein and Boulez are great ways to immerse oneself in 20th Century music then the BMOP’s recordings are a lesson in music of the 21st. They had a stunning CD this year, with the late Lou Harrison’s “La Koro Sutro,” paired with his “Suite for Violin (Gabriela Diaz) with American Gamelan.” Like most of the survivors of the 20th century survivors of the tonal vs.
10. Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Irving Fine Symphony
To celebrate Irving Fine’s centennial, Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project offered music by the composer and his Brandeis contemporaries, Arthur Berger and Harold Shapero. But the centerpiece of this May concert was Fine’s Symphony of 1962, one of the noteworthy symphonies of the twentieth century. BMOP’s spectacular performance of the work showed why that is the case. (AK)
Boston Modern Orchestra Project