The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features

It’s about time . . .

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  September 25, 2008

The Collage/Cantata Singers concert kept to its time limit, but it started so late (after Dinosaur Annex), it seemed long. I loved the late Donald Sur’s 1984 Satori on Park Avenue, with its maddening repetitions of the back-and-forth opening notes of “Tea for Two” and its King Kong reference, and Sonnet 97, his very last piece, which ends with the heartbreaking choral repetition of Shakespeare’s final phrase, “dreading the winter’s near.” I also loved Yehudi Wyner’s gorgeous cycle of William Carlos Williams settings, On this most voluptuous night (1982), though I’d have liked to hear more consonants from soprano Karyl Ryczek, and more emotional color. I treasure Irving Fine’s elegant and elegiac choral settings of Ben Jonson (1949) and Jake Falstaff (1944). Dalit Warshaw’s ambitious Suite Française (The Unwritten Chapters), an evocation of never-written sections of Holocaust victim Irene Nemirovsky’s epic novel, was the piece most hurt by the late hour.

The quietest concert, by Stephen Drury’s Callithumpian Consort, had delicate nature pieces by John Luther Adams, Lei Liang, and Jo Kondo. The most roof-raising was the evening with the George Russell Living Time Orchestra. Perhaps the festival’s most poignant moment came when the legendary master of avant-garde jazz, now 85, got up from his first row seat and, a bit shaky, began to dance and conduct extended sections of his 1983 through-composed The African Game, which alternates sounds of the jungle (lion-roaring trombones) with the cacophony of modern technology, and his love letter to his wife, Alice, the ballad “It’s About Time.” Jazz singer Sheila Jordan wailing “You Are My Sunshine” created another sensation.

On the last day, cellist Matt Haimovitz offered the festival’s most varied program. Joined by pianist Geoffrey Burleson, he played the world premiere of August Read Thomas’s Cantos for Slava, a memorial piece for Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich that was both uncannily light on its syncopated feet and ravishing. Part I of David Sanford’s not-yet-finished funk-like 22 had a lively interchange between the two instruments. And Haimovitz, with DJ Olive’s electronic samplings, tore into Tod Machover’s exciting and very beautiful VinylCello (2007), the festival’s only truly avant-garde piece. Machover, one should not forget, can also be a great melodist.

In the concluding BMOP concert, the festival’s largest orchestra — 72 players — attracted the largest audience. Haimovitz returned for 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Moravec’s 2000 cello concerto, Montserrat, which celebrated another great cellist, Pablo Casals; it was rhapsodic and sentimental, as opposed to Thomas’s more playful yet deeper Rostropovich tribute. Two scintillating pieces from the 1940s and ’50s by Boston’s Harold Shapero and Leon Kirchner alternated with premieres by Arthur Levering (a glistening if predictable Debussyan seascape) and Andy Vores (two dizzyingly inventive Fabrications, one based on a monumentally labyrinthine Richard Serra sculpture). The evening closed with John Harbison’s intricate and mesmerizing elaboration of contrasting Baroque formal procedures, Partita for Orchestra (2000).

The next Ditson Festival, in 2010, will be in a different city. What are Boston’s chances for a follow-up of its own?

< prev  1  |  2  | 
Related: Love and loss, Movie music, Singers’ delight, More more >
  Topics: Classical , Alice Ditson, Andy Vores, Barbara Lee,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print

--> -->
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   HERE COMES THE BRIDE  |  May 12, 2009
    Opera Boston's Smetana, the BSO's Berlioz, and Dawn Upshaw
  •   A LITTLE HISTORY  |  April 28, 2009
    Yehudi Wyner and John Harbison, Susanna Mälkki with the BSO, Natalia Gutman with the BPO, and BLO's Don Giovanni
  •   DIVA-GATIONS  |  April 21, 2009
    Mark Wigglesworth conducts the BSO; Renée Fleming returns to Symphony Hall
  •   CENTER OF GRAVITY  |  April 14, 2009
    Shi-Yeon Sung and Nelson Freire at the BSO; plus the Schubertiade Music Players and Emmanuel's St. Matthew Passion
  •   LOVED THESE BUT NOT THOSE  |  April 08, 2009
    Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Murray Perahia, Ian Bostridge

 See all articles by: LLOYD SCHWARTZ

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group