Matthew Guerrieri, "Thomas Oboe Lee symphony premiere imagines Paris" Boston Globe, November 21, 2011
The Paris conjured in the imagination of American vistors is a distinctive and palpable enough place to warrant its own passport stamp. Thomas Oboe Lee's new Symphony No. 8, "City of Light" - commissioned by the Boston Classical Orchestra, premiered by them and conductor Steven Lipsitt at Faneuil Hall on Saturday - seems to unapologetically illustrate that imaginary Paris as much as the real one.
Lee's travelogue is more suite than symphony, more scenery than discourse. Even the scenery feels idealized, Parisian-inspired genre evocations rather than the immediate experience of the city: a heavy drape of Byzantine chant for Sacré-Coeur, a swirl of asymmetric waltz for the Palais Garnier. The "Musée du Louvre" finale plays as a Ravellian soundtrack, a romantic reunion among the museum's grand, chaotic profusion, maybe, instead of the profusion itself.
The music, well-anchored tonality spiced with Impressionistically jazzy touches, eschews development for charm: For the "Avenue des Champs-Élysées," Lee sets up a chattering backdrop of pizzicato strings, lays in piquant chorales from the horns and bassoons, high accents from the other winds, deep cello-bass pedals - and then simply regards such diverting colors from various angles. The charm is sincere; the symphony might be the equivalent of postcards, but few cities provide such views the way Paris does.
1. Four Didactic Songs (2012) for soprano and piano. 2. God's Grandeur (2012) for the Boston College University Chorale. 3. Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion (2012) for the Drury Bros. and the Jordan Winds. 4. Symphony No. 9 ... "London" (2012) for BMOP. 5. Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (2012) for Joel Quarrington.
Commissioned by the Emmelos Ensemble in the Netherlands for a premiere performance in Bunnik Sunday May 20, 2012. Instrumentation: clarinet, bassoon, horn, string quartet and double bass.
Kickstarter project to help raise $12,000 to complete a double CD album of six concertos by Thomas Oboe Lee on the BMOP Sound label. Will update when it goes live!
Corso's Marriage (2011) with Tim Krol, baritone, and Holly Chatham.
Partita for Solo Violin (2011) with Irina Muresanu, violin.
Thursday February 9, 2012, in Gasson Hall @ Boston College.