Continuing our Top US Orchestras 2009 series, I headed up to Boston last weekend to catch a program that bridged the gap between more traditional narrative and phrasing with elements of 20th century modernism. Guest conducted by Swiss talent Charles Dutoit, the program of Stravinsky, Ravel and Prokofiev made perfect sense considering his proclivity towards French and Russian 20th century music.
The Boston Symphony more than proved its chops as one of America’s top orchestras, displaying an ability to play challenging modern works in a natural and effortless fashion (something the Baltimore Symphony seems to struggle with off and on). Too often, symphonies or orchestras feel too shoe-horned into modern works, far out of their comfort zone and never quite locking discordant, arrhytmic or irregular voices into the cohesive whole. The BSO nimbly navigated the syncopated and dissonant aspects of the program, emulating the beauty, grace and dexterity of the finest class of danseur.