Commission for Dead Composer, and Other Pieces

Toward the end of Tuesday evening’s concert by the Knights at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, the WQXR radio host Annie Bergen asked the violinist Colin Jacobsen a question about the last item on the program. Why did he think Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks” concerto was a good fit for them?

“Well, he wrote it for us,” Mr. Jacobsen, one of the ensemble’s artistic directors, answered deadpan.

Stravinsky’s concerto grosso turned 75 last year. The Knights’ average age appears to be half that. Yet on Tuesday they brought the same sense of ownership to “Dumbarton Oaks” and works by Ligeti and Bartok as they did to the two contemporary pieces on the program, by the singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens and the violist-composer Ljova…………

The Knights (who played without a conductor all evening) struck a fine balance between rhythmic precision and spontaneous-sounding phrasing.

July 23, 2014
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