BWW Reviews: Boykan and BMOP Present Boykan's ORCHESTRAL WORKS
Martin Boykan is certainly one of the most influential of our modern composers, as well as one of those most clearly influenced beneficently by grounding both in the modern European orchestral traditions and in the modern American neo-classical traditions of the early and mid-Twentieth Century. Anyone whose influences are both Copland and Schoenberg should have an intriguing outlook on musicality, and Boykan, in his compositions, shows a clear and, while frequently unusual, still appealing, philosophy of sound.
Best known as a chamber music composer, he has nonetheless written a fine orchestral pieces, which are on display in the recent BMOP release, MARTIN BOYKAN: ORCHESTRAL WORKS. With the assistance of violin virtuoso Curtis Macomber and popular opera baritone Sanford Sylvan, who has multiple Grammys to his name, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and conductor Gil Rose have, under their successful BMOP label, released a compact disc illustrating Boykan's mastery of composition for full orchestra and soloists. Boykan's 2003 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra is followed by the worthy Symphony for Orchestra with its baritone setting of Keats' sonnet "To Sleep".
The Concerto begins with an andante movement, opening with a deep, lyrical string line accompanied by clarinet and more strings, strongly reminiscent of Schoenberg, and perpetually returns to the opening notes as Macomber moves up the register. Macomber's handling of the solo line has a deft lightness to it, especially as both he and the orchestra end the movement dramatically but quietly. The second movement, "L'istesso tempo," opens with Macomber soloing as in the first movement, but in higher register and with a more determined pace, while percussion enters more prominently than in the first movement. Finally, the Allegro giocoso brings strings and percussion into competition at a more pronounced tempo, leading into a dissonance punctuated by Macomber's rising register (yet with a continued lightness in a particularly dynamic moment). Macomber's solo contrasts with the strong, ever-darkening mood of the rest of the orchestra as the movement ends. A combination of traditional structure with a modern and fresh interpretation of rhythm and use of orchestra against the soloist, the Concerto is presented masterfully under Rose's baton.