The Ground Beneath Our Feet | Warner 2564617098

The Ground Beneath Our Feet


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Label: Warner

Cat No: 2564617098

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 4th May 2015



The first Warner Classics release from The Knights – the eclectic Brooklyn-based orchestral collective – illuminates Stravinsky’s Bach-inspired concerto grosso ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ – with pieces by J S Bach himself, Steve Reich, Colin Jacobsen (violinist and co-Artistic Director of The Knights) and Siamak Aghaei (a virtuoso on the Persian santur), and by The Knights en masse: their piece, the ground beneath our feet, fuses Baroque, salsa, Irish reel, gypsy, Indian raga and free jam.
The album takes its name from the ground beneath our feet, the 15-minute piece that concludes the programme. Conceived on a collaborative basis by The Knights themselves, it grows organically from a four-bar ground bass (a repeated motif that runs through the piece) by the Italian Baroque composer Tarquinio Merula and is flavoured with an eclectic mix of musical styles ... salsa, Irish reel, gypsy, Indian raga and free jam.

As the Washington Post has written: “That they [The Knights] suggest a rock band is not accidental, but the precision of balance and ensemble bespeaks the highest level of musicianship and preparation.” In addition to instrumentalists, the ensemble embraces composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters and improvisers, while their list of guest performers attests to both the quality and diversity of the group’s achievement: it includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham, soprano Dawn Upshaw, pianist Jeremy Denk, saxophonist Joshua Redman and the Mark Morris Dance Group.

The central work on the CD is a celebrated 20th century reimagining of the concerto grosso – Stravinsky’s Concerto in E flat, ‘Dumbarton Oaks’, named after the splendid house in Washington DC, where it was first performed in 1938. 75 years later The Knights played the concerto there, and this is a live recording. Reviewing a performance of  ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ in February 2013, the New York Times captured the essence of The Knights’ performance style: “The concert opened with a gutsy rendition of Stravinsky’s ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ concerto, which the Knights played standing up, without a conductor. Crisscrossing lines of communication became visible in the players’ facial expressions and body language. Cellists smiled at each other over a shared joke of offbeat pizzicati. Two violinists leaned into each other with hurts-so-good grimaces as they dug into one of Stravinsky’s more scrumptious dissonances.”

In Dumbarton Oaks, Stravinsky drew inspiration from J S Bach, whose Concerto for Violin and Oboe follows Steve Reich’s Duet for Two Violins and Strings, the opening item on the CD; it was written in honour of Yehudi Menuhin in 1993, and, with its canonic effects, pays tribute to masters of the Renaissance and the Baroque.

Another contemporary work completes the programme, the Concerto for Santur, Violin and Orchestra, created by the violinist Colin Jacobsen – who, in partnership with his cellist/conductor brother, Eric, is Artistic Director of The Knights – and the santur player Siamak Aghaei. The santur is a Persian dulcimer, and Colin and Siamak first met in 2000 when they were both collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Project, which promotes multicultural artistic exchange.

1. Duet for Two Violins and Strings                                                                         
Ariana Kim (violin), Guillaume Pirard (violin)

Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor BWV1060R
2. I. Allegro                                                                                                                      
3. II. Adagio                                                                                                                     
4. III. Allegro                                                                                                                    
Johnny Gandelsman (violin), Adam Hollander (oboe)

Concerto in E-flat 'Dumbarton Oaks'
5. I. Tempo giusto                                                                                                           
6. II. Allegretto                                                                                                                 
7. III. Con moto                                                                                                                

8. Concerto for Santur, Violin and Orchestra
Siamak Aghaei (santur), Colin Jacobsen (violin)

9. …the ground beneath our feet                                                                                 
Collaboratively written by Alex Sopp, Michael P Atkinson, Zach Cohen, Shawn Conley, Colin Jacobsen and Johnny Gandelsman
Featuring 'Fade Away', music, lyrics and vocal by Christina Courtin

The Knights: Siamak Aghaei (santur), Colin Jacobsen (violin), Johnny Gandelsman (violin), Adam Hollander (oboe), Ariana Kim (violin), Guillaume Pirard (violin), Christina Courtin (vocals)

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