Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Osvaldo Golijov, Lena Frank

01.23.10
The Knights
Rondo Magazine

By Jörg Königsdorf

The first five minutes of the recording are already a sensation:

The Knights have put Charles Ives' orchestral piece "The Unanswered Question" at the beginning of their new album "New Worlds" – and arguably this work has never been played so beautifully and magically as now. Each note of the slow-moving chanting melody of the string players sounds as if it were drenched in the autumnal colors of New England, as if it was resonating from an old church at which the descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers were bellowing their Thanksgiving hymns. And the delightfully calming solo trumpet - like a cloud in a blue sky - blows over the question of whether evolution and crime are truly everything.

No doubt: the musicians of the New York chamber orchestra have for their first portrait-CD chosen music that they know and truly love: Alongside Ives are the Coplands' "Appalachian Spring", the tango paragon "Last Round" of the Argentinean Osvaldo Golijov and a suite of the 38 year old Californian Gabriela Lena Frank as well as Dvoráks Cello idyll's "Waldesruhe" (Forest serenity) with a special appearance of their mentor Jan Vogler, who presented them at last year's Dresden music festival. And nowhere can a beat be heard that sounds conventional: Franks Bartók's inspired sketches of Indian folklore in the Andes come to life with musical fervor due to the Knights expertise, Golijovs piece is perfectly balanced between macho snappiness and nonchalance.

And finally - in Coplands Ballet suite - the phenomenal Knights string players return with the beatified confidence of their Ives' sounds, and respond to the "unanswered question" with a golden, shining "yes". Beautiful new world.