In addition to writing reviews, features and news during the week, our critics and reporters collect the best of what they’ve heard: notes that sent shivers down their spines, memorable voices, quotations that cut to the heart of the story. This week, we’re offering a glimpse into the research we’ve done on YouTube for articles.
Read the rest of our classical music coverage here.
AT 2 MINUTES 30 SECONDS
Four Sticks, Many Rhythms
The accomplished musicians of So Percussion are exceptionally inventive in using ordinary objects as instruments, as they demonstrated recently in a performance of David Lang’s “man made,” a vibrant concerto for percussion, with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. The players turned trash cans, corked wine bottles filled with various levels of water, and even piles of tree twigs into wondrous percussion instruments. They also, of course, have technique galore on traditional instruments, something that comes through in this 2009 video: an extended portion of Steve Reich’s “Drumming,” played on four matched drums. Catch the moment a couple minutes in when just two players seem to create enough rhythms for an entire percussion ensemble. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
AT 3 MINUTES 28 SECONDS
A Solo for Two
There is little, if any, room for error in string duets. With only two voices in play, there is nowhere to hide incorrect intonation or rhythm; mistakes can be brutally obvious and cringe-worthy. Brahms’s Double Concerto for violin and cello — which Joshua Bell performs with Steven Isserlis next week at the Mostly Mozart Festival — perfectly illustrates this challenge. In the piece’s opening minutes, the violin (here the great Anne-Sophie Mutter) and cello (Maximilian Hornung) share a continuous run of 16th notes passed back and forth seamlessly, followed by another run: an ascent in which they play the same notes, but in different octaves. The moment requires pure unison. Played too carefully, the music loses its thrill; too recklessly, it all falls apart. Therein lies the suspense of every performance, and the reason to keep returning to Brahms’s odd but exhilarating masterpiece. JOSHUA BARONE
AT 1 MINUTE 21 SECONDS
Although I haven’t…