All Things Strings; Spins of the Week

08.14.08
Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider , Brooklyn Rider
Strings Magazine

Passport (In a Circle 001) by Brooklyn Rider

Silent City (World Village 468078) by Kayhan Kalhor and Brooklyn Rider

Reminiscent of the more established but no less adventurous Turtle Island and Kronos quartets, Brooklyn Rider is a gifted string quartet that mixes the classics with the contemporary to create music that is emotionally exhilarating and intellectually stimulating. The quartet-Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, violins; Nicholas Cords, viola; Eric Jacobsen, cello-is capable of creating a lush reading of Debussy's String Quartet in G minor one moment and an electrifying chamber-jazz spin on rock en español experimentalists Café Tacuba the next. That latter tune, "La Muerte Chiquita," arranged by contemporary Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, appears on Passport, one of the year's best chamber-music recordings. It is matched by five scintillating arrangements of Armenian folk songs, a pair of songs by the Russian violist and composer Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin, and a single original composition by Brooklyn Rider violinist Colin Jacobsen. This is some of the most vibrant music I've heard this year, of any genre, and it arrives from a group that's been waiting in the wings for a few years. The notion that Brooklyn Rider has arrived is supported by the simultaneous release of Silent City, their stunning collaboration with Kurdish-Iranian kamancheh, or spike-fiddle, master Kayhan Kalhor. The group's rich timbre and ability to handle the demands of Kahlor's portamento-laden Persian modes and shifting tempos makes this challenging music a real thrill ride. Obviously, the group's longtime association with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble (they've participated in three Sony Classical recordings with that ensemble) has helped prepare the Brooklyn Rider for this stunning world-music summit meeting. Highly recommended.