Recording Release Date 
August 2010
SACD Recording 
Recording Length 
Disc 1: 58:31
  • Boston Modern Orchestra Project
  • Gil Rose, conductor

“A fascinating new recording; the performances here are accomplished and engrossing.” (The New York Times)

Return to the full catalog

Buy recording

CD price: 16.99

Track listing

News and Press

[CD Review] American Record Guide reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures

Concerning Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein was right when he said, “He is a son of the hymnal.” Listening to this recording, that seems like a severe limitation. His melodies remain almost structurally naïve, akin to the more unsophisticated guitar hymns that arose once the vernacular replace Latin in the Catholic Church; their melodies sound like the notes of arpeggios with awkward harmonizations.

American Record Guide Full review
[CD Review] Fanfare reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures

For many (myself included), the music of Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) is an acquired taste. Originally I was rather put off by the harmonic simplicity (and occasional banality) of his dominant musical language – a language built almost exclusively upon simple hymnal harmonies and American folk rhythms. However, as the years have passed, I have come to deeply admire music of his work, and several pieces have become true favorites that I listen to often.

Fanfare Full review
[CD Review] Fanfare reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures

Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) is an American composer often talked about and referred to, but infrequently performed. The major record labels have pretty much ignored him, though smaller labels have done a reasonable job in representing his music. This disc, from the label of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, is a significant addition to the Thomson discography.

Fanfare Full review
[News Coverage] CLOFO names Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures a "Best of 2010"


Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures
(BMOP/sound 1018)

Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures
Thomas Meglioranza, baritone
Kristen Watson, soprano
Rose/Boston Modern Orchestra Project
[BMOP/sound 1018]

Classical Lost and Found Full review
[News Coverage] Holiday Gift Guide: Classical Music

Someday the naysayers will be right, of course. Nothing lasts forever. But classical CDs and DVDs remain plentiful, and it was a great year. Buy, wrap, and give the real thing while you still can. Downloads make lousy gifts.

Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures
Thomas Meglioranza, baritone; Kristen Watson, soprano
Boston Modern Orchestra Project, conducted by Gil Rose
(BMOP/sound 1018); $16.99

Los Angeles Times Full review
[CD Review] BBC Music Magazine reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures

The plain speaking of the ‘Parisian Midwesterner’ Virgil Thomson sounds out strikingly in this cleverly planned programme. A Solemn Music, originally written for winds in memory of Thomson’s friend and collaborator Gertrude Stein, is sombre and fierce, a good foil for its later companion-piece A Joyful Fugue. The Three Pictures for Orchestra are a fascinating attempt to create objective rather than impressionistic musical landscapes: the last, ‘Sea Piece with Birds’, ends with a terrific climax of squawking gulls.

BBC Music Magazine Full review
[CD Review] CLOFO reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures


The Harvard music department has certainly produced its share of distinguished American composers, including John Knowles Paine (1839-1905), Arthur Foote (1853-1937), John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951), and Walter Piston (1894-1976). But none was more influential than Mid-Westerner Virgil Thomson (1896-1989), who went on to study with Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) in Paris during the 1920s.

Classical Lost and Found Full review
[CD Review] "Pictures" seldom played

For those who like to stump their musical friends with the old guess-the-composer game, a good puzzler would be “Sea Piece With Birds.”

This 1952 orchestral work, some four minutes of somber, heaving music, is thick with chromatic chords that move in big parallel blocks, with skittish atonal themes mingling hesitantly above. The atmospheric orchestral colors suggest strangely updated Debussy. A frenetic climax sounds like some ornery blast of Varèse.

The composer?

The New York Times Full review
[CD Review] Audiophile Audition reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is currently represented in the catalog on about 33 releases, most well-worth investigation by those interested in the trends of contemporary music, and good contemporary music at that. It is time they turned their attention to one of the most misunderstood and really neglected composers: Virgil Thomson—critic, pianist, organist, and often vitriolic pundit. At least that is what the composers of the atonalist school thought; though no one was completely free from his often dead-on and yet highly provocative verbal barrages.

Audiophile Audition Full review
[CD Review] Leonard Link reviews Virgil Thomson: Three Pieces

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my favorite singers is the baritone Thomas Meglioranza. I’m pleased to report a new recording by Mr. Meglioranza of music for baritone and orchestra by Virgil Thomson on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project label. He sings the Five Songs from William Blake and The Feast of Love, and joins with soprano Kristen Watson in Collected Poems, a witty setting of words and phrases by Kenneth Koch.

Leonard Link Full review
[Press Release] BMOP/sound releases Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures

BMOP/sound, the nation's premier label launched by an orchestra and dedicated exclusively to new music recordings, today announced its new fall release, Virgil Thomson: Three Pictures. A versatile composer of daring creativity and unparalleled originality, Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) is regarded as one of the most important American composers of the 20th century.

BMOP Full review