Opening the score of Augusta Read Thomas’s Cello Concerto No. 3, which received its premiere Thursday night, one encounters something telling about this composer’s approach before reading a single note. At the bottom of the list of percussion required for this ambitious 30-minute work, Thomas writes that extra care should be given to make sure “each of the [five] triangles has a slightly different ‘pitch and color’ from one another, so that each of them has a unique contribution to the overall sonic palette and so they blend elegantly with the crotales, glockenspiel, and finger cymbals.”
This attention to minute detail is a hallmark of Thomas’s music and reflects the delicacy of imagination with which she constructs her sound worlds. That this new work, a BSO commission, also contains a vivid theatricality of gesture, a certain lightness of being, makes it particularly successful.