The recipient of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards and a Fulbright Grant to the Netherlands (where she studied with Louis Andriessen), Missy Mazzoli has written for ensembles ranging from the Kronos Quartet and eighth blackbird to the Minnesota Orchestra and New York City Opera. The LA Phil commissioned Dissolve, O My Heart for solo violin, premiered by Jennifer Koh on a Green Umbrella concert in May 2011; Bolts of Loving Thunder was an LA Phil co-commission for pianist Emanuel Ax’s Brahms Project, premiered here by Ax this past January. Mazzoli is also an active keyboardist and often performs with her quintet Victoire.
Her Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), a LA Phil commission, is in the main a sort of Minimalist gymnopédie for small orchestra. The compound rhythms are smudged through overlapping parts and stylized “Baroque” ornamentation, but a slowly spinning triple feel underlies the piece. It begins in soft sonic mists, lit by glinting percussion and the wheeze of harmonicas, but the orchestral sun comes up quickly. An insistent vibraphone drives the music into a brighter, more energized dance variation, and then elements of this rhythmically more punchy music alternate with the stately gymnopédie. The quiet close, punctuated with suggestive piano chords, echoes the beginning, fading out with the ghostly sound of a multi-tracked violin on tape playing some of the opening material.