The Seasons / Helios / Night Music

Oct 14, 1998 at 12:00 am

Trenchantly dramatic, Musgrave's music is as exciting as it is abstract. The Scottish composer-conductor celebrated her 70th birthday last May, but old age hasn't dimmed her bold palette. "Helios," composed in 1994, is a brash, driven piece in which the oboist, in wild flights of fancy, portrays the sun god. "Night Music," from 1969, is no gentle Chopin nocturne, but a restless rhapsody reflecting what the composer calls a "dream landscape." Sweet dreams they're not. "The Seasons" is brimming with rhythmic vigor and harmonic invention. But the inclusion of snippets from the "Marseillaise" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" are coy distractions that mar this otherwise fine 1988 work.