TMC orchestra performances tend to be somewhat haphazard assortments of repertory, mostly of high quality, but diverse rather than coherent as programs. Monday night’s concert was different: there were resonances among the works that indicated a triangle of influences and artistic interests with the apex being in the music of British composer Thomas Adès, who conducted half of the program.
For me Cymbeline is all about the new Blackfriars Theater, an enclosed space, a place to speak quietly, a place lit by candles, a space that found William Shakespeare buying a house in the vicinity, a space for a riot of inventiveness, revived for us by Tina Packer. Think of the bedroom scene where Iachimo examines the sleeping Imogen. This scene played in The Globe would surely have produced some less than elegant speech from the crowd. Shakespeare and Company’s production chose something of a middle way, a humorous assault on Imogen’s person, which must have played better in the Blackfriars Theater, the audience being genteel, and their number being small.
The director of this year’s Festival of Contemporary Music, Steven Stucky, was a fine composer whose music occupies a centrist position in the American musical landscape, not only in his prominence, but equally due to his traditionally-oriented style. Stucky’s premature death last February at the age of sixty-six deprived this year’s festival of a director and the music world of a distinguished voice, but in the FCM programming his musical personality is apparent. Imaginative and resourceful, his music has an appealing surface, a familiarity of materials, and a clear and direct emotional appeal, speaking to the influence of mainstream American composers like Aaron Copland.