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Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Premiere Bernard Rands's DREAM

Nov. 01, 2019

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Premiere Bernard Rands's <em>DREAM</em>

On November 1, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti, gave the world premiere performance of Bernard Rands's DREAM. Rands and Muti have enjoyed a 30-year collaboration that began when the Maestro appointed Rands The Philadelphia Orchestra's composer-in-residence in 1989. Rands and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have also enjoyed a long relationship, including two previous commissions: Apokryphos (2002) and Danza Petrificada (2010), which also was performed on the CSO’s 2011 European tour. DREAM received additional performances on November 2 and 5 and has received exceptionally high acclaim. The Chicago Tribune called the piece, "gripping", and said, "...DREAM unfolded as a masterful work, concise in expression, rich in musical incident and quite gripping as it darted from one thematic idea to the next. Stretching just 11 minutes in this performance, this brief but compelling essay attested to both Rands’s virtuosity with a pen and the orchestra’s skill in bringing it to life.".  DREAM was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in honor of Rands’ 85th birthday. Bernard Rands describes the inspiration behind the work:

"The title DREAM is not intended to suggest a musical evocation of a specific dream. Rather, the musical form of this composition models some of the general characteristics of dreams - unpredictable and fantastic juxtapositions; exotic simultaneities; recognizable and mysterious images blended together; intense clarity; opaque chaos; moments of nightmarish intensity - all unfolding in unreal time and often linked by a single, dominating element. This landscape of the mind allows me to explore a post-Debussian formal aesthetic I have been developing over many years.

Some 35 years ago, to alleviate the boredom of a flight from London to Sydney, I composed an extended melody - not for any immediate composition project, just a challenging exercise! I have twice since revisited that melody - in LONDON SERENADE for Chamber Orchestra where it has a simple melodic function, and BODY and SHADOW for large orchestra where it’s inherent harmonies are explored. Here, in DREAM, it is the DNA of the work, i.e. every aspect of the composition - it’s melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, contrapuntal, timbral, textural, contour, mood and formal proportions are all derived from the melody. It is DREAM's dominating and unifying element.

At first fragmented, the tiny modules gradually accrue until the final section of the work is totally dominated by the complete melody played by unison strings (Largamente) but still accompanied by slightly quirky, dream-like harmonies in the winds." 

Listen to an interview by Newcity Chicago music critic Dennis Polkow featuring Bernard Rands and Riccardo Muti here.  

Additional performances of Bernard Rands's music take place throughout the US this month including a performance of String Quartet No. 2 by the Amernet String Quartet on November 12 at Stetson University, Canti Lunatici on November 14, and Music for Shoko - Aubade on November 17, both performed by the Hear & Now Ensemble, led by Jerry Hou, and Scherzi, performed on November 24 by the Network for New Music Ensemble, led by Jan Krzywicki, in Philadelphia.

Listen to Bernard Rands's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra: III. Delicate and Playful (2013):
(Concerto for Piano and Orchestra: III. Delicate and Playful/Bernard Rands/Jonathan Biss, piano/
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Markus Stenz, conductor)

To learn more about Bernard Rands, visit:

Bernard Rands
DREAM (2019)
for orchestra
3(3.pic) xyl, tub bells, sus cym (sizzle), tri; II: tam-t, vib, crash cym; III: tam-t, vib, tub bells, tri, s.d, sus cym (sizzle); IV: b.d, mar, tri)-str