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Augusta Read Thomas

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Helios Choros II (2008)
Publisher
G Schirmer Inc
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
2008
Duration
20 Minutes
Programme Note
Augusta Read Thomas Helios Choros II (2008)
Premiere:
14 December 2008
London Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Harding, conductor
London, UK



Performances
Date
Title
  • 15 OCT 2009
    Helios Choros II US Premiere
    Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
    Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Ludovic Morlot, conductor

    Other Dates:
    16,17 October - Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
  • 14 DEC 2008
    Helios Choros II World Premiere
    London, UK
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Daniel Harding, conductor

Reviews
Without doubt the most remarkable, and to many the most anticipated performance of the evening was the American premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Helios Choros II (Sun God Dancers). The piece lived well up to its expectations and was delivered immaculately by the orchestra and Morlot, who is no stranger to conducting contemporary music. Thomas is one of the rare composers who not only allows her personality to shine through her music, but allows the many facets of her persona to become concentrated and interact throughout her works. Helios Choros II, like the Stravinsky, was full of dance-like energy– but had a far wider emotional and dynamic range. The piece was much like walking into a room with a handful of very distinct, idiosyncratic characters. They’re having a conversation. Some are interested in what the others are saying, and respond with relevant and affected musical retorts; while others are only interested and hearing themselves speak and interject arrogantly and willfully throughout the piece. The piece seems to revel in this counterpoint of development and non-development with the end goal of establishing an overall dramatic corollary to a collective of musical personalities. Helios Choros II is the second and longest component of a three-part symphonic triptych. Along with Helios Choros I (commissioned by the Dallas Symphony) and Helios Choros III (commissioned by the Orchestre de Paris), the full work runs roughly around 40 minutes. Elliott Carter’s Symphonia was conceived in a similar manner, as different orchestras commissioned three movements at different times. Nowadays, Symphonia is rarely performed except in its entirety, which begs the question: When will Helios Choros be performed altogether? It would be quite a treat if the Boston Symphony Orchestra would provide the hinges for this splendid work.
Peter Van Zandt Lane , The Boston Musical Intelligence,10/18/2009
In addition to those works, the BSO entrusted Morlot last night with the American premiere of a piece by Augusta Read Thomas, Helios Choros II (Sung God Dancers),’ co-commissioned with the London Symphony Orchestra. The work is conceived to be freestanding but it also serves as the central movement of a much larger piece Thomas is cobbling together with commissions from two additional orchestras. Her hope is that one day it will be taken up by a ballet company. Until then, the dancers for this bright, vivid, compelling music are strictly imaginary. Thomas’s approach often weds a preference for rugged complexity with a keen ear for the sensuality of sound. So too Helios Choros II’ is very densely scored for a large orchestra with multiple layers of near constant activity - short sunken fanfares, fast instrumental relays, jagged violin solos, a pizzicato echo chamber - and yet a sense of rhetorical coherence nonetheless emerges. The music holds the ear but does not overwhelm it. Morlot and the orchestra gave the work a vibrant first reading last night, responsive to its challenging rhythmic demands as well as to its fractured lyricism.
Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe,10/16/2009
The LSO did its bit to fight the recession tonight, with so many musicians they packed the stage to capacity. Ticket sales were healthy, too, and the performance definitely lifted the spirits! Even more gargantuan was Augusta Read Thomas' Helios Chroros [II], receiving its world premiere. This is the middle movement from a large triptych, which will eventually be expanded still further. No less than four orchestras on two continents are involved in the commission. It's an extravaganza, full of incident and theatrical effects, as it's meant to be choreographed. Pre-recession confidence! Wild applause indicates it should be very popular as spectacle.
Anne Ozorio, musicOMH,12/18/2008
The LSO did its bit to fight the recession tonight, with so many musicians they packed the stage to capacity. Ticket sales were healthy, too, and the performance definitely lifted the spirits! Even more gargantuan was Augusta Read Thomas' Helios Choros II, receiving its world premiere. This is the middle movement from a large triptych, which will eventually be expanded still further. No less than four orchestras on two continents are involved in the commission. It's an extravaganza, full of incident and theatrical effects, as it's meant to be choreographed. Pre-recession confidence! Wild applause indicates it should be very popular as spectacle.
Richard Whitehouse, www.classicalsource.com,12/14/2008
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