The Boston Phoenix
Lloyd Schwartz
March 23, 2010

The timely highlight of Gil Rose’s latest BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project) concert, “Strings Attached,” was a new/old piece (2004, revised 2009) for two string orchestras by Scott Wheeler now called Crazy Weather — the new title taken from a John Ashbery poem that begins, “It’s this crazy weather we’ve been having.” Thunderous snaps of antiphonal bass strings set off pizzicato raindrops that turn into Allegro sheets of musical rain. Of course, it’s an emotional landscape, as the exquisite Adagio makes even clearer. Slowly overlapping high violins create pungent harmonies, with delicate pizzicato punctuation. And in the “Steadily driving” third movement, the contrast — or argument — between flowing legato and slashing staccato becomes more intense and syncopated, until finally the storm is over and all the tension just dribbles away.

There was also the astounding violist Kim Kashkashian in Israeli composer Betty Olivero’s affecting folk-based lamentation Neharót, Neharót, with accordion (Katherine Matasy), double string ensembles, and tape, and Milton Babbitt’s 1967 Correspondences, for strings and synthesized tape, which alternates delicate, bell-like pointillism with rude raspberries — hard as ever to follow but here, for once, delightful to listen to.

The most traditional piece was the newest: NEC concerto-competition winner Nathan Ball’s Stained Glass, with pretty Copland-esque tunes floating over an Adams-like repeating minimalist bass line.

Copyright 2010 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group