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David Sanford and BMOP - Black Noise' resonates with history / I CARE IF YOU LISTEN

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Black Noise (2019, BMOP/Sound) features three orchestral works by composer David Sanford, carefully interpreted by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) under the direction of Gil Rose, in which Sanford implicitly reflects on the complexity of this sonic history in a contemporary classical idiom. Exploring a variety of subjects and forms through his own evocative and narrative-driven compositional voice, Sanford makes progress towards his goal to "promote and normalize the contribution of Blacks in classical music."

In the album's opening and eponymous composition, Black Noise (2017), Sanford reconciles his geographic and musical influences to present an abstract interpretation of noise as sound, gesture, and timbre. The work showcases his compositional signature: the ability to masterfully shift between, juxtapose, and synthesize styles in an authentic and personal manner. Black Noise develops a series of carefully constructed, texturally diverse episodes–demarcated through moments of brief silence and resounding arrival–to construct a richly allusive narrative. While individual voices move to the forefront, Sanford's careful orchestration and the individual performances of the BMOP musicians give musical agency to soundscapes of cacophonous aggregations of visceral air and pitch gestures, harmonious collections of crystalline timbres, and conglomerations of motoric string motives and saxophone multiphonics.

Scherzo Grosso (2006) for cello and orchestra is the product of Sanford's ongoing collaborative relationships with the Pittsburgh Collective and virtuoso cellist Matt Haimovitz. In the context of the whole album, Scherzo Grosso sounds as a post-modern synthesis and extension of the compositional techniques and dizzying number of styles heard in the previous works. Amidst BMOP at the height of Sanford's stylistic and sonorous noise, the most striking moments are the silences in Haimovitz's captivating interpretation of the expansive cadenza. What one is left to contemplate in these moments is if the work could serve as a model for equitable inter-cultural exchange, listening, and understanding.
Matt Haimovitz--Photo by Christopher Lane, Christopher Lane