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BSO Will Perform O.C. Commission


Elliot Goldenthal's "Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio," a piece commissioned by the Pacific Symphony, will be performed by Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at three major concerts this spring, according to the president of the Sony Classical record label.

As a result, Sony's recording of the piece by the Pacific Symphony, with guest cellist Yo-Yo Ma, will be released in March. The first recording of the work and the Pacific's first recording for a major label, it was to have been released by this week.

Label president Peter Gelb said Tuesday that the postponement will enable Sony Classical to capitalize on the publicity the Boston Symphony performances are expected to generate. "We are trying to release it with the greatest possible fanfare," he said.

The orchestra "will present [the Goldenthal piece] in Boston, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington this coming concert season. I'm not at liberty to announce the actual dates yet, but it will be sometime in the spring," Gelb said.

"It's very exciting and gratifying news for us," said Rondell Hanson, president of the Pacific Symphony board. "It's great to see the rest of the world have an opportunity to hear this work."

"Fire Water Paper" was the first large-scale commission by the Pacific Symphony, which unveiled the piece in April at the Orange County Performing Arts Center with two performances conducted by the orchestra's music director, Carl St.Clair. The orchestra was joined by the Pacific Chorale, a children's chorus and soprano Ann Panagulias and baritone James Maddalena.

A few days later, St.Clair conducted the piece at the center, and it was recorded. Ma subsequently over-dubbed a prominent cello solo that had been played in concert by the Pacific's principal cellist, Timothy Landauer.

After the premiere, the hourlong piece received mixed reviews. Asked in a recent interview how he likes the piece, Ma was noncommittal, saying he was too close to it to judge it. Ozawa, the Boston Symphony's music director, could not be reached Tuesday to discuss his reaction to the piece.

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