To all the gifts Steve Jobs gave us, the iPhone, the iPad, and most importantly, Toy Story, we must add Mason Bates' B sides, performed last Wednesday by the composer on the stage with the San Francisco Symphony and his white-apple-glowing Macbook. The B Sides consist of five movements with the odd number weaving electronic sounds mixed in from a drumpad and the laptop, while the even numbers are mostly acoustic numbers.

We had heard the B sides a couple years back; but hearing the thick textures of the first movement, we didn't recall at all and we just got engrossed in the piece outside of that reference frame. We were mesmerized by the blend of orchestral colors with the synthesized interjections. In the first two movement, the orchestra basically separates the violins, who play long held notes and glissandos, and the rest of the instruments, whose motives are rhythmical snippets, matched by the electronic beats. Maybe it felt less gimmicky and more natural on second hearing, maybe we were not distracted by the novelty of the set up and could just savor the inventiveness of the score. No matter, it was thoroughly enjoyable.