MusicNOW: Labyrinth Recommended Soundboard

When: Mon., Dec. 3, 7 p.m. 2012

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's latest concert under the rubric MusicNow—a forward-looking series curated by Mead composers in residence Anna Clyne and Mason Bates—is anchored by the U.S. premiere of Labyrinth, a 2011 piece for a dozen cellos by Sofia Gubaidulina. Though she's arguably the greatest living Russian composer, her work is rarely performed in Chicago—given that there was a Contempo concert of her work earlier this year at the Harris Theater, maybe tonight's show represents the beginning of a trend. The rest of the program consists of works by three young composers, which is the sort of thing this invaluable series usually makes its main thrust. Bates's bracing string quartet "From Amber Frozen" opens with atonal shards of sound, which coalesce around alternately spry and brooding pizzicato-speckled melodies and finally break apart again. "Strange Matter," a translucent, turbulent chamber work by New York-based Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri, ebbs and swells gently and violently by turns, thoughtfully colliding its conflicting motifs, and Steven Bryant's brief, visceral, brass-heavy "Loose Id for Orchestra" mimics the manic energy of unleashed unconscious impulses. —Peter Margasak

Price: $25

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