Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Contemporary American Composers

2023
Artist: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Ricardo Mutti
Label: CSO Resound
Additional Artists:

Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo-soprano

Repertoire:

Philip Glass – Symphony No. 11
Jessie Montgomery – “Hymn for Everyone”
Max Raimi – Three Lisel Mueller Settings

Chicago has long been a welcoming home to the working composer, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the heart of the musical life they found in the city. The three American composers whose music is performed on this recording all have important ties to the CSO, from Philip Glass’ formative years as a student listener in Orchestra Hall in the 1950s, to Jessie Montgomery, who is the Orchestra’s Mead Composer-in-Residence today, and Max Raimi, who is both a prolific composer and a longtime member of the Orchestra’s viola section. The works by Montgomery and Raimi were both their first CSO commissions, and these are their world premiere performances. Montgomery’s Hymn for Everyone is a meditation for orchestra that speaks to the significance of her emergence in today’s cultural climate through its reflection on the personal and collective challenges of the spring of 2021. In it, a hymn-like melody traverses different orchestral choirs to poignant effect. For each poem in Raimi’s Three Lisel Mueller Settings, he selects an admired colleague to enter into a dialogue with the soloist, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong. This highlights the talents of Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson in a frenetic waltz, Principal Bassoon Keith Buncke in a tragic elegy and Principal Bass Alexander Hanna in a metaphor for hope, with soaring, song-like phrases that transcend standard conceptions of the instrument’s expressive possibilities. Glass’ Eleventh Symphony is part of the symphonic tradition that captivated him as a student. Each movement has its own unique character ― the first bold and driving, the second crowned by a slowly unfolding melody and the third a barrage of cascading energy and racing percussion. For Glass in the 50s, it was Fritz Reiner. Now Riccardo Muti champions the compositional voices of the age with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “It takes courage,” says Glass of the Orchestra’s legacy of performing contemporary music, “and that courage becomes a tradition.”

Genre: Orchestral/Choral