The first two works of this intriguing and delightful ASO program are chamber works composed nearly 300 years apart.

Bulgarian born, London-based Dobrinka Tabakova’s (b. 1980) Barbican Glade (2022) was commissioned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of London’s majestic Barbican Centre, the largest arts and conference venue in the UK and home to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where Tabakova studied.

The Barbican centre is a massive concrete structure in the brutalist architectural style that was the fashion of the day, but it features gardens that soften its appearance and a conservatory with 2000 tropical plant species. The multifaceted character of the centre seems to permeate Tabakova’s composition.

Performed by a string ensemble of three violins, three violas, three cellos and double bass, Barbican Glade opens quietly and slowly before a complex interplay of competing melodic lines, sometimes in different rhythms, emerges. Its character seems internally focussed rather than celebratory, and it has a wistful feel, with moments of stark dissonance.

Evidently, Tabakova’s work draws on elements of Elgar’s cello concerto and Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto which were performed at the Barbican’s opening. The music is simultaneously harsh and gentle, perhaps a personal reflection on the physical environment of the composer’s...