I found one of my favorite reviews from the 1990’s (Roger Reynolds’s Dreaming and Harvey Sollberger’s Passages), and posted it here.

There was a minor controversy surrounding Roger Reynolds’s commission from the San Diego Symphony (his first from the Symphony after living in San Diego for over 2 decades). Dreaming had been on the schedule for performance the season before, but the premiere was cancelled. Theories about the cancellation, many involving Symphony Board intrigue, bounced around the UC San Diego Music Dept.

Several months later I interviewed Igor Gruppman, the concertmaster for the SDS. He related that the musicians have a clause in their contract allowing them the right to cancel if they don’t get parts a certain number of weeks ahead of a world premiere; apparently Reynolds’s parts got to the players too close to the performance date, and they voted to reschedule. The performance I reviewed months later sounded great, so hopefully everything worked out for all parties.

I can’t recall the San Diego Symphony playing any contemporary music as challenging as Reynolds’s work on a main subscription series concert since this performance. More’s the pity, as the Symphony is playing even better now than when they tackled Dreaming.

3 Responses to “Ominous Portents”
  1. zeno says:

    Interesting post, Christian H. Thank you. Both of the major Roger Reynolds works that I have heard in the past decade were for small chamber ensemble and computer music (and vocal/acting soloists) – “Justice” in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress; and “Sanctuary” in the large atrium of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art. Both projects had substantial financial backing from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Library and Gallery. (“Justice” was commissioned for the celebration of the Library of Congress’s Bicentennial in 2000; while “Sanctuary” was performed, if not commissioned, in honor of the Gallery’s Robert Rauchenberg retrospective.)

    I had mixed feelings about both works, especially the second – as I sense that you had about “Dreaming,” although probably for different reasons. With no implied disrespect, I think – based upon your review- that I would rather hear the National Symphony Orchestra, under Ch. Eschenbach, perform York Hoeller’s new six-movement work for orchestra “Spheres” than Reynolds “Dreaming.”

    While I’m sure that you know about it, here—for others — is the Library of Congress Roger Reynolds webpage:

    http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/html/rreynolds/rreynolds-home.html

  2. Christian Hertzog says:

    Actually, I liked “Dreaming.” I think it’s one of Reynolds’s more accessible works. His single movement works can be tough going for listeners, but the 4 movements of “Dreaming” feel comfortably close enough to symphony form that audiences aren’t intimidated. I also enjoy “Transfigured Wind” (the one for flute and orchestra and tape–I think that’s no. 2) and “Personae,” a concerto for violin, instrumental ensemble, and tape (I don’t believe this has been recorded). It’s been a while since I heard Archipelago, but I recall liking it when I did listen to it way back when.

    I haven’t York Hoeller in ages. You’ve made me curious now to seek out recent recordings…

  3. zeno says:

    I also heard “Transfigured Wind” earlier in NYC. I recall loving Roger Reynolds’s series of Voicespace pieces when they first came out on Lovely Records LPs. I will try to find my recording of it, as well as of York Hoeller’s “Signals” and “The Master and Margarita.” I heard part of Hoeller’s “Spheres” — I believe on the Grawemeyer Award site. As you probably recall, both Reynolds and Hoeller were featured on the second New Horizons Festival: A New Romanticism? hosted by the New York Phil. under Jacob Druckman in 1984; which featured three (3) computer music concerts. Xenakis, Lansky, Hoeller, and Risset were on one program under the Group for Contemporary Music, and Babbitt, Henze, and Reynolds were on the other programs, which featured the New York Philharmonic and a quadraphonic speaker system and mixing console for the composers. It was a large effort for a culture just coming out of a very deep recession.

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