John Harbison: Ulysses

Critics Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Since its 1996 inception, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP for short) has quickly pushed its way to the forefront of contemporary-music organizations in this country. Under the leadership of conductor Gil Rose, BMOP’s founder and artistic director, the ensemble has presented nearly 40 premieres, half of which it commissioned. It has also been active on the recording front, issuing 13 discs on a variety of labels.

Media Date 
March 27, 2008
Media Source 
Time Out New York
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BMOP's lively performance does this ravishing work justice; factor in excellent sound, attractive packaging, and fine essays by the composer and Richard Dyer, and the result is self-recommending.

Media Contact Name 
Steve Smith

The New York Times reviews Michael Gandolfi: Y2K Compliant

MICHAEL GANDOLFI’S music has some of the rigor of the mid-20th-century atonalists, but it also draws on the richness of melody and timbre prized by the neo-Romantics. You would not put his work firmly in either category, and that’s probably for the best, since much of its appeal is in the ease with which it moves between those poles. One moment you’re taken with its braininess, its structural logic and textural intricacy; the next you’re struck by the flow of fresh ideas, vivid orchestration and rhythmic vitality, all of which give it a visceral punch.

Media Date 
June 8, 2008
Media Source 
The New York Times
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Y2K Compliant uses a bustling Neo-Classicism (tinged, as always, with sharp-edged modernism) to offer a tongue-in-cheek view of our mechanistic age.

Media Contact Name 
Allan Kozin

Masterfully modern

Critic’s Rating
Perfomance: FIVE STARS
Sound: FIVE STARS

John Harbison’s Ulysses ballet is undoubtedly one of his most colourful, accessible works, and a far cry from the cool convolutions of his Great Gatsby opera. Fragments of the ballet floated around the concert world during the 1980s, but the first complete performances and recording did not occur until the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Music Director Gil Rose undertook this truly heroic task in 2003.

Media Date 
June 26, 2008
Media Source 
BBC Music Magazine
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This scrupulously prepared yet heartfelt performance perfectly captures the glittering surface as well as the close-knit texture of this 80-minute work.

Media Contact Name 
Howard Goldstein

American Record Guide reviews John Harbison: Ulysses

John Harbison’s ballet Ulysses (1984, rev. 2003) was inspired by the final scenes from Monteverdi’s Ritorno d’Ulisse, where the hero strings his bow and goes on to win back both his kingdom and his wife. The ballet is in two large parts, ‘Ulysses’ Raft’, and ‘Ulysses’ Bow’, the latter having been previously recorded by the Pittsburgh Symphony on Nonesuch. This is the first recording of the complete ballet, which (incredibly) still awaits staging.

Media Date 
August 1, 2008
Media Source 
American Record Guide
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I have no doubt that the music and performance will also hold up exceptionally well. This is an important release- and an impressive debut for this ambitious label.

Media Contact Name 
Allen Gimbel

Fanfare reviews John Harbison: Ulysses

One of the reasons John Harbison (b. 1938) is now probably our country’s premier serious composer is the comprehensive range of his catalog. He has made a conscious effort to address all of the various classical genres, from a three-act opera to many kinds of miniatures, both vocal and instrumental.

Media Date 
August 12, 2008
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

With Dyer’s full and incisive annotation and, most important, BMOP’s absolutely stunning, all-encompassing ultra-realistic sound ambience, we have here one of the outstanding releases of contemporary American music of the decade.

Media Contact Name 
Paul A. Snook

Gramophone reviews John Harbison: Ulysses

John Harbison began composing a full-length ballet based on the legend of Ulysses in the 1980s without any prospect of a staged performance. The ballet’s second act, “Ulysses’ Bow”, was played in concert and recorded by André Previn and the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1984 but the complete score didn’t come off the shelf until 2003, when the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, led by Gil Rose, brought it to belated life. Their efforts were eminently worthwhile, as the recording of the entire work released on their own label confirms.

Media Date 
August 12, 2008
Media Source 
Gramophone
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Media Quote 

The playing is detailed and sweeping, providing Harbison's ballet with the intimacy and sonic splendor it needs to be revealed as a compelling achievement.

Media Contact Name 
Donald Rosenberg

American Record Guide reviews Michael Gandolfi: Y2K Compliant

Three orchestral works by Michael Gandolfi, composer of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation (M/J 2008). In his highly useful notes, Robert Kirzinger knights Gandolfi “master of innumerable compositional approaches”, purveyor of a technical and stylistic smorgasbord that will at least partly please everybody. As with Cosmic Speculation, there is great skill on display, though what this display of variety adds up to is anybody’s guess.

Media Date 
September 1, 2008
Media Source 
American Record Guide
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Media Quote 

I look forward to hearing more of Gandolfi's work as his future projects allow him a more personal expression.

Media Contact Name 
Allen Gimbel

Fanfare reviews Michael Gandolfi: Y2K Compliant

Michael Gandolfi (b. 1956) teaches at Tanglewood, so it is reasonable that his music should appear on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s label. This band, under its music director and conductor Gil Rose, is dedicated to the performance and promotion of contemporary American music. The members have successfully recorded several CDs for other companies, but this program and a recording of John Harbison’s ballet Ulysses are the inaugural releases on their home label. The fact has been a while in the offing. Well, it is here now, and the results are brilliant.

Media Date 
September 1, 2008
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

An unmissable release featuring music that marries thoughtfulness and sheer entertainment value...stunningly performed and recorded.

Media Contact Name 
Phillip Scott

American Record Guide reviews Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints

Two spiritually charged pieces from vastly different worlds by Lee Hyla, who has recently lefts his long-time post at New England Conservatory for an appointment at Northwestern University in Chicago. Both of these pieces were written for Nessinger while Hyla was in residence at NEC. At Suma Beach (2003) is a work in four sections for mezzo, solo clarinet, and chamber ensemble, based on the Noh play Matsukaze.

Media Date 
September 1, 2008
Media Source 
American Record Guide
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Media Quote 

Hyla's music seems to be both improvised and coldy calculated...the mix is arresting and individual.

Media Contact Name 
Allen Gimbel

Jazz Times reviews Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz

If Third Stream music, the merger of classical music and jazz, never took hold within either musical world as it might have since its official inception in the late 1950’s, the best examples of the genre still prove that it was more that just an academic pipedream.

Media Date 
October 1, 2008
Media Source 
Jazz Times
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Media Quote 

Schuller has unearthed three original works, recasting each as collaborations between contemporary jazz players and BMOP.

Media Contact Name 
Steve Futterman

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