Turning the concert experience on its ear

Classical music programming is increasingly becoming a vibrant world of experimentation. The familiar paradigm of large Classical and Romantic works concentrated together in a comfortable succession has been shifting for some time. Many performers interject modern works between the old warhorses, illustrating the connections and similarities that unite often disparate sounding musical styles. Some go even further as last Sunday’s performers, Pekka Kuusisto and Nico Muhly, did. Their program interlaced the movements of Bach’s partita for solo violin, No. 2, between works by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and some of Muhly’s own chamber music. The effect created a musical thread, a journey for the listener in which each piece led naturally to the next with clarity of purpose and musical vision. Kuusisto and Muhly also spun their take on two traditional Finnish folk songs, music that felt entirely at home with that of Bach, creating the sense that all music shares a fundamental commonality. This simple, humble message was left to the audience to explore in any direction their imaginations chose to take them.

Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and American composer/pianist Nico Muhly perform at The Phillips Collection on Sunday, January 5. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and American composer/pianist Nico Muhly perform at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Read Anne Midgette’s review of the concert in the Washington Post.

Jeremy Ney, Music Specialist

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