Boston Modern Orchestra Project launched its 2016-2017 season with its “American Masters” program, featuring the music of Steven Stucky and Michael Colgrass. The October 8th concert opened with Colgrass’ imaginative work, The Schubert Birds, and closed with Steven Stucky’s Chamber Concerto, both of which garnered high praise in the Boston Music Intelligencer:
Colgrass’s imagination gave us some fine solo writing, and some vivid color, with a memorable duet between oboe and contrabassoon and a striking melody for violins, violas, and cellos in unison fortissimo, without octaves. The waltz itself fades away near the end with four solo contrabasses playing very high on their G strings, a remarkable sound that kept in tune only with difficulty. A widely-spaced, luminous string chord at the very end supported a touching gesture of flute and piccolo.
…premiered only six years ago, and it still sounds young and fresh. An abundance of expressive melody wanders through the highs and lows of orchestral sound, featuring rich differences of instrumental soli. The beginning, with widely-spaced polychordal fifths in string harmonics and vibraphone, evokes a daybreak scene. A rhythmically well-marked faster section follows with staccato woodwinds in parallel thirds; it yields to a slower section with expressive clarinet, solo violin, and solo cello, eventually much-divided strings playing soft trills with solo flute and bisbigliando harp. …Overall, the radiant orchestral sound and color most impressed in this formally adventurous concerto.