Concert Review: Boston Symphony premieres Harbison’s Sixth Symphony

Posted on: January 13, 2012

In Friday’s (1/13) Boston Globe, Jeremy Eichler writes, “A composer never knows how many symphonies he will have the opportunity to write over the course of his lifetime. John Harbison has wisely made a point of never repeating himself. Each symphony sounds like none of its siblings, and yet all six of them have Harbison’s own signature voice: capacious, lean, searching. … Boston Symphony Orchestra audiences have had the chance to reflect on the contours of Harbison’s symphonic arc over the last two seasons, thanks to the BSO’s complete survey of his work in this daunting genre. That two-year project comes to completion this week with the first performances of his new Sixth Symphony, commissioned by the orchestra and premiered last night in Symphony Hall. … The Sixth is not an easy work nor a triumphant work. Its tone is dark and its rhetoric elusive. Harbison resists facile closed forms. … Themes seem to eerily dissolve, time and pulse are slippery, solid harmonic ground grows unstable, would-be celebratory fanfares are blanched with dissonance. … Last night mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy sang with radiant tone and David Zinman led a performance both sympathetic and knowing.” Works by Weber, Beethoven, and Strauss rounded out the program.

Posted January 13, 2012