Fireworks From Cuba, And Schubert That Grooves: New Classical Albums

05.05.12
The Knights
All Things Considered

by TOM HUIZENGA

Listen to the Story

Although it always seems fashionable to forecast the downfall of classical music, enterprising musicians both young and not so young continue to make deeply satisfying recordings. For this visit to weekends on All Things Considered, I was delighted to uncover the little known (at least in this country) Jorge Luis Prats, a terrifically talented Cuban pianist whose once uncertain career appears to be resurging — at 55, he has signed a handsome record deal. Then there's The Knights, a young chamber orchestra with a postmodern take on Schubert. They cleverly juxtapose his music with kindred spirits from the 20th and 21st centuries — Erik Satie, Philip Glass and Morton Feldman. Conductor John Eliot Gardiner, now an elder statesman of the period instrument movement, takes his second shot at the Brahms German Requiem with extraordinary results. And on the lighter side, Israeli composer Ronn Yedidia writes sparkling music for a great clarinetist. Listen to excerpts from these new releases below.

Streaming audio sample from the album:
The Knights: Schubert (arr. Ljova) — 'Gretchen am Spinnrade'
Artist: The Knights
Album: A Second of Silence
Song: Gretchen am Spinnrade ("Meine Ruh'..."), song for voice & piano, D. 118 (Op. 2)
This smartly programmed album stitches together disparate composers. Did you know Schubert was a minimalist? He sounds like it when the churning rhythms of pieces like "Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel" and the "Unfinished" symphony are set beside the motoric repetitions of Philip Glass. And the spaces between the notes are quietly explored in pieces by Erik Satie (two Gymnopedies) and the late 20th-century master of nervous tranquility Morton Feldman. These are seamless juxtapositions played with verve from the fresh-faced New York chamber orchestra The Knights, a brother organization to the string quartet called Brooklyn Rider.