Author Archives: Stephen Brookes

Who knew a cathedral of sound could be build from Sandbox Percussion?

Source: The Washington Post » Music

You’d expect a group calling itself Sandbox Percussion to take a playful approach to music — and you’d be right, as this New York-based quartet proved Sunday in a sophisticated but seriously fun afternoon of contemporary music at the Phillips Collection. Who knew a cathedral of sound could be build from Sandbox Percussion?

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Arditti Quartet shines at the Phillips

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Few — if any — string quartets have had as much impact on contemporary music as the Arditti Quartet. Through virtuosic performances of works that leave other ensembles scratching their heads, Arditti has introduced — maybe “revealed” is a better word — some of the most important new music of the past four decades. So it was a particular treat to hear Arditti at the Phillips Collection on Sunday, where the group explored the subtle connections between three modern French masterpieces, and suggested that “impressionism” in music may still be very much alive. Read full article >>

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Young violinist Chad Hoopes more than earns his bravos in Kennedy Center debut

Source: The Washington Post » Music

The gifted young violinist Chad Hoopes has been rising — or maybe hurtling — toward international stardom since taking first prize in the junior division of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in 2008. Now 21, with a string of recording and concert successes behind him, Hoopes made his Kennedy Center debut at the Terrace Theater on Thursday evening and displayed not only the jaw-dropping virtuosity that’s become almost the norm in young professionals but also a gift for dramatic pacing and a distinctive, convincing sense of poetry.Read full article >>

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Hornist Eric Ruske invokes Roman gods in Library of Congress recital

Source: The Washington Post » Music

It’s not often that you hear a French horn recital dedicated to one of the Roman gods. But the two-faced Janus (who looks to both the future and the past) turned out to be an apt inspiration for hornist Eric Ruske, whose recital at the Library of Congress on Friday explored the ancient and almost primal sound of the instrument — by focusing on works from the 20th century.Read full article >>

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Ensemble Intercontemporain offers an answer to attacks by affirming life

Source: The Washington Post » Music

It was a visibly shaken Matthias Pintscher who took the stage at the Library of Congress on Friday evening, only hours after savage terrorist attacks swept across Paris. Asking for a minute of silence, Pintscher and his Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain bowed their heads then launched into a program of music that, in its dazzling expressiveness and intensity of feeling, felt like a tribute to the victims — and a profound, unbending affirmation of life.Read full article >>

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Ariel Quartet turns in a flavorful musical ‘appetizer’

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Strange but true tidbit: Some concertgoers just are not that crazy about string quartets. Yes, they do deserve our pity and our help. But even for those benighted souls, Schubert’s single-movement Quartet in C minor, D. 703 (“Quartettsatz”) is hard to resist: lovely, lyrical and (best of all) over in a flash.Read full article >>

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The Knights charge into Dumbarton Oaks

Source: The Washington Post » Music

The contemporary-music scene in New York has been generating a nearly endless stream of high-powered young ensembles over the past decade. On Sunday night, one of the most imaginative of them — a musical collective known as the Knights — came to Dumbarton Oaks as part of the museum’s Friends of Music series.Read full article >>

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Formidable strength on the piano that would have pleased Prokofiev

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Recitals by the pianist Sara Daneshpour have become a highlight of the American Art Museum’s annual Steinway Series, and her probing and often fiery performance Sunday afternoon showed why. Daneshpour’s near-impeccable technique is impressive enough, but in a program that included the musings of Robert Schumann and the eruptive violence of Sergei Prokofiev, Daneshpour also brought an intensity and seriousness of purpose that had you at the edge of your seat.Read full article >>

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Myriad Trio, in its Kennedy Center debut, is nearly impossible to not like

Source: The Washington Post » Music

It wasn’t obvious, a hundred years ago, that combining the flute, the viola and the harp could produce some of the most beguiling chamber music in existence. But Debussy’s 1915 “Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp” — a sonic miracle if there ever was one — changed all that, giving birth to a compelling new genre. And as the San Diego-based Myriad Trio showed Tuesday night in its superb debut at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, it’s a genre of, well, myriad possibilities — and a sound that’s almost impossible not to like.Read full article >>

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At ‘Two Thousand Flutes,’ admiration for the performance and instrument

Source: The Washington Post » Music

From its title, you might think “Two Thousand Flutes” would be among the more massive — and slightly alarming — events in the history of music. But the demonstration and concert at the Library of Congress on Saturday afternoon by flutist Lorna McGhee was largely a solo affair and an overview of the instrument that showcased more than a dozen of the thousands of rare flutes in the Library’s Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection.Read full article >>

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Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard shines with guitarist Sharon Isbin

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Is there a better antidote to the chill of this endless winter than the hot-blooded music of Spain? Well, okay — maybe tickets to the Caribbean. But a close second was Tuesday night’s impassioned performance by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and guitar legend Sharon Isbin, who brought two hours of fiery, flamenco-steeped music to the Terrace Theater as part of the Kennedy Center’s “Iberian Suite: Global Arts Remix” festival.Read full article >>

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American Music Festival wraps up with a bang from percussion ensemble

Source: The Washington Post » Music

The National Gallery of Art’s two-week American Music Festival — one of the most adventurous and exciting celebrations of contemporary music here in years — closed Sunday with a performance by the Third Coast Percussion ensemble that proved just how vital and fertile new American music really is. Playing on items as varied as Tibetan singing bowls and amplified Magic Markers, the ensemble transformed the museum’s West Garden Court into a vast, resonating sonic playground, presenting four recent works that ran from mischievous humor to bluesy sensuality — delivered with virtuosity and deft, precisely timed wit.Read full article >>

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A powerful performance from the high-energy JACK Quartet

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Is there any string quartet today as flat-out brilliant as the JACK Quartet? This virtuosic young ensemble has emerged over the past decade as the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment — as its players (with guest pianist Eric Huebner) proved in an afternoon of new American music at the National Gallery of Art on Wednesday.Read full article >>

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Oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen plays a concert that includes jazz and Indian ragas

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Simon Shaheen, the much-admired Palestinian violin and oud virtuoso, brought his ensemble to the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Saturday night for a concert that fused traditional Middle Eastern music with everything from jazz to flamenco to Indian ragas. That may sound like a recipe for the soggy, superficial mush that often gets passed off as “world fusion” music, but the evening turned out to be a probing, personal and convincing exploration of the currents that run through different musical traditions — and tie the ancient past to the 21st century.Read full article >>

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Review: In a violinist’s high-wire act, virtuoso Kristóf Baráti transfixes

Source: The Washington Post » Music

There’s nothing easy about 90 minutes of solo violin music. It’s a high-wire act for any violinist — not only must he carry the concert’s entire melodic, harmonic and rhythmic weight single-handedly; he also must make the music so compelling that any limitations of the solo form just seem to vanish. The challenges are huge, but as the Hungarian virtuoso Kristóf Baráti proved in a gripping, extraordinarily powerful performance at the Phillips Collection on Sunday, so are the rewards.Read full article >>

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Music from China combines tradition with modern flair

Source: The Washington Post » Music

It would be tough to get more up-to-the-minute than the concert of contemporary Chinese music at the Freer Gallery of Art on Saturday, where four of the six works on the program were written just this year. And it would be equally hard to find such a range of richly imaginative new work — steeped in tradition yet thoroughly 21st-
century — that transcends nationalism but retains, at its heart, a compelling and distinctive Chinese sensibility.

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Avant-garde cellist Maya Beiser’s daring hits full throttle

Source: The Washington Post » Music

Maya Beiser, the reigning queen of the avant-garde cello, has been pushing out the boundaries of her instrument for years, but in a rapturous, high-intensity performance on Saturday night at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, it was clear she’s now aiming at almost transcendental heights. Switching between electric and amplified acoustic cellos, using electronics to build huge and sweeping juggernauts of sound, Beiser knitted pop and overtly spiritual music together — and found a deep, almost devotional thread running through everything she played.

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Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan at the Birchmere

Source: The Washington Post » Music

When Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan take the stage at the Birchmere on Monday night, it may not look, at first, like they have a whole lot in common.

There’s Guy, the legendary blues guitarist. Born in 1936 to a sharecropper family in Louisiana, he built his first guitar out of baling wire and a piece of wood, took a bus to Chicago in the 1950s to cut his teeth with Muddy Waters and rose to global stardom. At age 78, he’s a Kennedy Center honoree, a six-time Grammy Award winner and a musician Eric Clapton once called “the best guitar player alive.”

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Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan at the Birchmere

Source: The Washington Post » Music

When Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan take the stage at the Birchmere on Monday night, it may not look, at first, like they have a whole lot in common.

There’s Guy, the legendary blues guitarist. Born in 1936 to a sharecropper family in Louisiana, he built his first guitar out of baling wire and a piece of wood, took a bus to Chicago in the 1950s to cut his teeth with Muddy Waters and rose to global stardom. At age 78, he’s a Kennedy Center honoree, a six-time Grammy Award winner and a musician Eric Clapton once called “the best guitar player alive.”

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An energetic evening with the Musicians From Marlboro at the Freer Gallery

Source: The Washington Post » Music

What, exactly, are they putting in the water at the Marlboro Music Festival?

Not only is the virtuosity of “Musicians From Marlboro” (an ensemble of festival alumni who tour the country every year) consistently jaw-dropping, but — as they showed Thursday night at the Freer Gallery — the freshness, rich imagination and sheer vitality of their playing is enough to make even the most jaded concertgoer edge to the front of his seat.

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