CHICAGO—The digital-only release of the CSO’s next CSO Resound album, Riccardo Muti Conducts Mason Bates and Anna Clyne, is available for download and via streaming services beginning Tuesday, May 6, 2014. The recording features one work each by CSO Mead Composers-in-Residence Mason Bates and Anna Clyne: Bates’sAlternative Energy and Clyne’s Night Ferry, both of which were CSO commissions that received their world premieres in Chicago under Maestro Muti’s baton. The album is available for digital pre-order on iTunes beginning on April 29.
Mason Bates and Anna Clyne were appointed by Music Director Riccardo Muti as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Mead Composers-in-Residence beginning in the 2010/11 season, an appointment that has been extended through the 2014/15 season. “They each have a unique voice,” said Muti, “and I am proud that we have brought such fine young composers to Chicago.” Bates and Clyne have transformed the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series into an imaginative concert experience drawing huge crowds, with cinematic program notes and innovative production elements.
Alternative Energy is an “energy symphony” for orchestra and electronics that spans four movements and hundreds of years, beginning in a late 19th century junk heap and moving forward through time to pass through increasingly potent sources of energy, including a present day particle collider (for which field recordings were made at Fermilab outside of Chicago), a Chinese nuclear plant in the near future, and finally an Icelandic forest, where earth’s last human inhabitants stoke campfires, seeking a paradise lost. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “[a] formidable and inventive new work… it shows [Bates’s] mastery of the orchestral landscape like nothing before it.” Alternative Energy received its world premiere on February 2, 2012 by the CSO conducted by Riccardo Muti. The CSO also performed Alternative Energy on tour in California in 2012, and at New York’s Carnegie Hall when Riccardo Muti led the 2012/13 season-opening concerts there.
Night Ferry has its roots in the music and life of Franz Schubert, toward whom Maestro Muti suggested Clyne turn for inspiration for the piece. The title of the piece comes from Seamus Heaney’s poem “On Robert Lowell,” an elegy for the American poet:
“You were our Night Ferry
thudding in a big sea,
the whole craft ringing
with an armourer’s music
the course set wilfully across
the ungovernable and dangerous”
Like the poet Robert Lowell, Schubert suffered from manic depression, specifically cyclothymia, a form of depression characterized by severe mood swings. Cyclothymia can manifest as rapid shifts between—and even the coincidence of—polar mental and emotional states. Night Ferry explores these shifts as displacements, using them to narrate a voyage that traverses Schubert’s inner and outer worlds. The piece had its world premiere on February 9, 2012 from the CSO conducted by Riccardo Muti on a program that included Schubert’s “Entr’acte No. 3” from Rosamunde and his Symphony No. 9 (Great). Maestro Muti also led performances of Night Ferry on tour in California with the CSO in February 2012.
Recorded in February 2012 at Orchestra Hall, the album was engineered by Christopher Willis and produced by David Frost, both Grammy® Award winners. Most recently, Frost received two 2013 Grammy® Awards, for Producer of the Year, Classical and Best Engineered Album, Classical. Willis won a 2008 Grammy® for Best Engineered Album, Classical for his work on the CSO Resound release Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago, and Frost has won fourteen Grammy® Awards, including two 2010 awards for Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with Maestro Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.
Night Ferry and Alternative Energy were commissioned for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by The Louise Durham Mead Fund.