The Knights Are Spirited in Central Park, Despite Soggy Weather

06.24.15
The Knights
The New York Times

Write-ups of summer concerts in New York parks are often as much weather reports as reviews. So be it.

The Knights, an orchestral collective, opened the 110th season of the free Naumburg Orchestral Concerts in Central Park on Tuesday evening in the 92-year-old Naumburg Bandshell and thereabouts. 

With rain falling lightly and heavier weather predicted at concert time, five string players led the members of the sizable audience to shelter inside the lower level of the nearby Bethesda Terrace and performed Zhou Long’s attractive and entertaining “Chinese Folk Songs” (“Driving the Mule Team” and the like), which had been scheduled for the second half of the program. It was the “most portable” of the pieces, Colin Jacobsen, the Knights’ concertmaster, said in introductory remarks, expressing the hope that blue skies would follow by its end.

The rain, indeed, mostly relented, allowing players and audience alike to return to the band shell. The orchestra performed standing, huddled toward the back of the shell, to keep instruments already bathed in humidity well clear of the active damp, and umbrellas sprouted occasionally among listeners. The program, broadcast live on WQXR, was truncated, with Arvo Pärt’s “Tabula Rasa” and three of the four movements of Gyorgy Ligeti’s “Concert Romanesc” — much of the evening’s interest — simply dropped.

The performances, in every case spirited and vital, survived amplification and the elements surprisingly well. You had to fear for the Dvorak’s delicate opening, but it came across reasonably well, and the rest was suitably robust. Only the insectlike skittering and buzzing of the Ligeti eluded the ear in large part. Still, it was a wonder there was any snap and bite at all on this soggy occasion.

Read the rest of the review here