Review: CSO gives world premiere of Mason Bates’ “Anthology of Fantastic Zoology”

Posted on: June 26, 2015

“Riccardo Muti knows how to bring down a curtain with proper flourish,” writes John von Rhein in Saturday’s (6/20) Chicago Tribune. “For the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s season finale this weekend, he is getting a huge assist in that regard from the two B’s—Blackhawks and Bates. At … the orchestra’s final subscription program of 2014-15, Thursday night at Symphony Center, the music director paid tribute to the city’s other championship team by setting his band loose on a rousing rendition of the Blackhawks’ goal song, ‘Chelsea Dagger’ … Certainly art and sport jostle for attention in Mason Bates’ ‘Anthology of Fantastic Zoology,’ a CSO commission that was receiving its world premiere. Bates, who wrote it as his ‘swan song’ to the orchestra upon completion of his five years as CSO composer in residence, took his title and inspiration from a 1957 work of magical-realist fiction by Jorge Luis Borges … At just over 30 minutes, ‘Anthology of Fantastic Zoology’ is the largest piece Bates has composed to date. A huge percussion battery essentially co-opts the role of electronica, typically a key element of Bates’ orchestral arsenal. … this fantastical menagerie becomes a pretext for a grand, playful, surprising, exuberantly colorful concerto for orchestra.” Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony closed the program.

Posted June 26, 2015