Review: Chicago Symphony’s season-ending MusicNOW program: concertos by Montgomery, Moore, Tower, Weinberg

Posted on: May 26, 2022

“It might be called MusicNOW, but Jessie Montgomery’s first season curating the Chicago Symphony’s contemporary music series was one for the ages,” writes Hannah Edgar in Monday’s (5/24) Chicago Tribune. “Monday’s season finale … exalted … concertos … none of them world premieres, but all composed between 2009 and 2022…. Joan Tower’s … ‘Rising’ for solo flute and orchestra … foregrounded CSO principal Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson’s intelligent, understated intensity but roiled with fitful string writing…. More sparks flew off that instrument in Alyssa Weinberg’s cello concerto ‘Caligo,’ played by the composer’s longtime collaborator Gabriel Cabezas.… Cabezas is nothing short of brilliant, his musicianship soulful and probing…. James Moore played double duty as composer and soloist in [the world premiere of] ’Sleep is Shattered,’ [an electric guitar concerto] originally written for Tom Waits and Elvis Costello sideman Marc Ribot. That piece was a highlight … not only for Moore’s sharp-eared handling of the solo guitar lines and loop pedals but his remarkable orchestral writing…. Jessie Montgomery’s opening ‘Overture’ … [interpreted] the ‘concerto’ theme as more a ‘concerto grosso.’ But it was a winsome, taut curtain-raiser … MusicNOW’s 25th season next year [will include music by] Osvaldo Golijov, Carlos Simon, Alvin Singleton and, of course, Montgomery herself.”