In Wednesday’s (12/2) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes, “ ‘Traditions and Transmigrations’ was the lofty title of the program the adventurous American Composers Orchestra presented at Zankel Hall on Monday night to open its 33rd season. The phrase was meant to convey that the chosen works for this concert, ably conducted by Stefan Lano, involved the blending of styles and represented aesthetic journeys for the various composers.” Two of the three premieres “were exceptionally interesting: Donal Fox’s ‘Peace Out’ for Improvised Piano and Orchestra, a catchy title for an arresting piece; and Erin Gee’s ‘Mouthpiece XIII: Mathilde of Loci, Part 1,’ a mouthful of a title for a subtle and inventive piece.” Fox’s work “opens with a fitful section, all gnashing brass, spiraling strings and searing harmonic angst. Mr. Fox’s piano playing, bursting with violent, keyboard-spanning runs, drove the music. … Ms. Gee’s work is the first section of a three-part concert opera loosely inspired by the life of the 16th-century Jesuit scholar Matteo Ricci. The most intriguing element here came from Ms. Gee’s experimental writing for the voice, tailored to her own skills as a performer.” The program was rounded out by Ives’ Tone Roads Nos. 1 and 3, Huang Ruo’s Leaving Sao, and the premiere of When the Orchard Dances Ceased by Curt Cacioppo.

Posted December 3, 2009