Review: Chicago Symphony premiere of Bernard Rands’s “DREAM”

Posted on: November 5, 2019

“Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands go back a long way,” writes Howard Reich in Saturday’s (11/2) Chicago Tribune. “Rands served as the Philadelphia Orchestra’s composer-in-residence from 1989-1996, his tenure overlapping with Muti’s music directorship there from 1980-1992…. Friday afternoon in Orchestra Hall … Muti led the world premiere of Rands’ ‘DREAM’ … designed to reflect how seemingly random thoughts flicker through our psyches as we sleep…. At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss ‘DREAM’ as a comparatively conservative piece…. But within its somewhat familiar sonic vocabulary, ‘DREAM’ unfolded as a masterful work, concise in expression, rich in musical incident and quite gripping as it darted from one thematic idea to the next. Stretching just 11 minutes in this performance, this brief but compelling essay attested to both Rands’ virtuosity with a pen and the orchestra’s skill in bringing it to life. This music’s restlessness stood out, muted chords giving way to declamatory strings, great swaths of orchestral sound punctuated by bursts of percussion and startling pauses…. The CSO musicians dispatched a score that’s thorny to read with what sounded like ease but could not have been.”

Posted November 5, 2019