Denève took the microphone to introduce the Scottish composer James MacMillan's dour Three Interludes from "The Sacrifice," excerpts from his grim 2006 opera. Denève, former music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, said he loved his friend's score, then charmingly repeated the plot summary already in the program. It's shorter than MacMillan's hyper-rhetorical St. John Passion with its unfortunate anti-Semitic biblical texts, which the BSO played in 2010, but has fewer of the St. John's most appealing lyrical passages.
Denève concluded with another of his favorite composers, Albert Roussel — the Bacchus et Ariane Suite No. 2 (actually the entire second act of Roussel's 1937 mythological ballet). Roussel is a Ravel-like colorist without Ravel's inspired melodic gift, but the intriguing score, with its rousing Bacchanale, last played here in 1993, deserves more regular hearings.
Denève seems a solid musical citizen, dynamic but of limited range and excitement. This was his third BSO appearance, and the players evidently like him. I have greater reservations about his non-French repertoire than his French pieces, and deep concern about his interests in contemporary music. He's been invited back for three programs at Tanglewood. But Jurowski still tops my list of hopefuls.
, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Gil Shaham, Kaija Saariaho, More