La Folia
Grant Chu Covell
January 1, 2015

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. Nor Spell Nor Charm, intended for mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani, became a memorial after her death. Its animated line often exposes supporting synthesizer notes. The wonderful Lamia’s four movements commingle love poems and sorcerers’ incantations including texts used by Cavalli and Wagner. Shelton is excellent in Lamia.

The two arrangements drape 17th-century music in late-20th-century vestments. They are tasteful even though BMOP plays them as any modern orchestra might: As if strong downbeats and emphatic articulation were the keys for unlocking the Baroque’s secrets. For Cavalli’s aria, Delizie contente che l’alme beate from Giasone, Druckman hands the solo castrato line to an English horn. No jokes, please. The Charpentier exudes majesty with forward strings; the Rondeau provides a rousing trumpet line. But don’t mistake this for a period effort. It is a challenge to figure out the original dances when accented beats are distributed other than uniformly. Recalling the function of “early music” in the mid-1980s, I suspect these arrangements were a reaction to the prevalence of stodgy Handel.