'For nine years from 1997, Augusta Read Thomas was composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony, and three of the pieces on this disc were composed either for that great orchestra or its sibling new-music ensemble, MusicNow. Together with the other pieces here they give a good sense of the vividly imaginative instrumental palette that Thomas has at her fingertips, and which established her as one of the most distinctive and rewarding US composers of her generation.
Luciano Berio has been a persistent influence on Thomas's work, and that's most obvious in the vivid imagery of the earliest piece in this collection, the purely orchestral Words of the Sea, from 1995, inspired by a Wallace Stevens poem; the sonorities are both pungent and transparent, and each movement has its own distinctive dramatic profile. In My Sky at Twilight is a setting for soprano and 18 instruments of a patchwork of poetic fragments that range chronologically from Sappho to Neruda, in which the mood changes with tremendous agility. Thomas's confident handling of a chamber orchestra is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the pieces in this collection.
There are two concertante pieces; Carillon Sky for violin and chamber ensemble superimposes a mostly high-lying solo line on a sound world of bell-like resonances, while the relationship between the solo horn and the ensemble in the more substantial Silver Chants the Litanies is distinctly more confrontational. Terpsichore's Dream for chamber orchestra from 2007 is a parade of glittering musical images that steadily gains energy; it would make a great work-out for any ensemble.' Andrew Clements, The Guardian, February 2014
“Step forward a comparatively young composer writing today in a dissonant and provocative way… The notes are useful and the recordings though seemingly made at different times during the 2000s are brilliant. There’s at least two more Read CDs are to come from this source so Read adherents are to be encouraged.” Rob Barnett, musicweb-international.com