Contemporary American Composers

Contemporary American Composers

Riccardo Muti has recorded very little music of living composers, so this album is a significant, late-career addition to the Italian conductor’s extensive discography. The main work is Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 11, completed in 2017 when the composer turned 80. Cast in three movements and lasting 40 minutes, its trademark pulsing rhythms and carefully layered textures benefit enormously from the precision-tooled playing of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). “The 11th Symphony is a massive work,” Muti tells Apple Music. “Philip Glass came to Chicago for the occasion, and he was very impressed by the performance.” Jessie Montgomery was the last composer in residence appointed to the CSO by Muti (“a very talented young American composer,” he says). Her plangent Hymn for Everyone highlights the eloquence of the Chicago strings, developed by Muti during his 13 years at the orchestra. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong is a commanding presence in CSO viola player Max Raimi’s emotionally probing Three Lisel Mueller Settings. Muti’s judicious, clear-textured conducting graces all three pieces on this boldly unconventional album.

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