Delights & Dances, the Chicago Sinfonietta’s first recording with its new music director, award-winning conductor Mei-Ann Chen, does what this singular ensemble does best: it captivates listeners of all ages and diverse ethnic backgrounds through irresistible music and superb musicianship. On Delights & Dances, the Chicago Sinfonietta, a standard-bearer for racial diversity in the orchestral world, works its magic through a one-of-kind program featuring music for string quartet and orchestra, with guest artist, the Harlem Quartet.
The album takes its title from Michael Abels’ witty, soulful, and infectiously rhythmic Delights & Dances, which receives its world premiere recording. The greatly admired contemporary African-American composer wrote the work for the Harlem Quartet, an ensemble of first-place laureates of the Sphinx Competition for outstanding young black and Latino string players. A New York Times review of the work’s 2007 premiere, presented at Carnegie Hall, described the piece as “an energetic arrangement . . . which incorporates jazz, blues, bluegrass and Latin dance elements” — and which the Harlem Quartet “played with panache.”