Music on the Cutting Edge
The season opener comprises three pieces by composers with very distinctive voices.
José Pablo Moncayo composed Huapango in 1941 using idiomatic Mexican dances and a driving rhythm section that reflects his own career as a percussionist.
Mason Bates (b. 1977) is an American composer who demonstrates his ease with both the symphony orchestra and with electronica in the symphonic poem The B Sides: Five Pieces for Orchestra. The five movements illustrate various American sights and sounds including a 1965 spacewalk (with recorded dialogue between the actual astronauts) and “Warehouse Medicine” in honor of techno’s Detroit birthplace.
Dmitri Shostakovich was a composer caught between his own creative ideas and the control of Soviet authorities in the mid-20th century. He had been condemned by the government for what they considered inappropriate learnedness, so in 1937 he wrote his 5th Symphony to rehabilitate himself. The resulting work was both brilliant and subtly filled with irony.