Review: Oregon Symphony premiere of Balch’s “Chamber Music”

Posted on: October 25, 2018

At the Oregon Symphony’s October 1 concert, guest conductor Jun Märkl “said a few words about the OSO’s world premiere of its latest commission, Chamber Music by living composer Katherine Balch,” writes Matthew Andrews at Tuesday’s (10/23) Oregon Arts Watch. “Balch’s music, he explained, is meant to convey a chamber-like intimacy in which we might ‘come together and discuss certain things, whispering to each other…. There will be no melody, but very beautiful sound experiences.’ … Balch’s music was sparse and, as promised, amelodic. Yet it was a compelling amelodicism, a shimmering sonic blanket quilted from microswaths of richly colored acoustic fabrics…. Waves of dazzling brass, swelling out from muted trumpets and trombone glissandi, surging across the stage … A sine tone emerged from a pair of intent trumpets and threaded its way around the orchestra through wavering winds and spectralist strings…. Märkl’s conducting style was equally well-suited to Haydn. [It] paid off early in the short symphony (No. 83, aka ‘The Hen’) with an exquisite, Westworldy theme that shimmered around the first movement…. The two of these back-to-back are just about everything I love about this orchestra: cool, stylish, brave, confident, afraid of no music new or old.”

Posted October 25, 2018