Critic’s Choice

January 8, 2019 at 3:25 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

Joh Harbison's Symphony No. 1 was performed by Richard PIttman and the New England Philharmonic Saturday night at Jordan Hall. Photo: Tom Artin

John Harbison. File photo: Tom Artin

John Harbison turned 80 on December 20 and his birthday season is being celebrated by a number of ensembles this season. And this week, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which has long shared a close relationship with Harbison, will honor the composer with two events that will spotlight some of his most arresting and introspective music.

Beginning Thursday night, Andrew Davis will lead the BSO in the composer’s Symphony No. 2, a score that captures the colors of the sunrise and sunset through brash sonorities and luminous orchestration. Davis will also lead the orchestra in Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24, with soloist Alessio Bax making his BSO debut.

On Sunday, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players will offer Harbison’s Piano Quintet and Wind Quintet alongside his Duo for flute and piano and Deep Dances for cello and double bass. The concert will conclude with Bach’s Cantata No. 51, to be sung by soprano Amanda Forsythe.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts will take place 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Symphony Hall. The Boston Symphony Chamber Players will perform 3 p.m. Sunday at Jordan Hall.; 888-266-1200

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