Bates: Philharmonia Fantastique, Outwater (CD)
Record Label: Sony
Release Date: December 9, 2022
“This short-ish concerto for orchestra introduces the woodwind, string, brass and percussion families with dashes of jazz and techno. It’s a noble enterprise, with deeper ideals about human diversity and unity. Bates is, as ever, an engaging musical storyteller.” — BBC Music Magazine
A co-commission of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and five other orchestras, Mason Bates’ Philharmonia Fantastique has been hailed by no less than legendary composer John Williams as “the biggest step forward since [Disney’s] Fantasia itself. A truly magnificent achievement.” It has also been lauded as the successor to children’s classics such as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
The concerto, and the corresponding animated film, depict the four families of the orchestra, each with its own unique sound worlds and musical motifs: the slinky, sophisticated noir-jazz of the woodwinds; the lush romanticism of the strings; the aggressive techno-fanfares of the brass, and the percussion section “drum circle” in all its versatility. Ultimately the work’s message is one of unity: the diverse instruments of the orchestra are most powerful when working together as one giant instrument.
2022 Grammy® Award, Best Engineered Recording, Classical
Bates Philharmonia Fantastique
Edwin Outwater conductor
February 2021, Orchestra Hall, Chicago