Date: March 9, 2011
Venue: Lincoln Cenre/Alice Tully Hall
Reviewed by Piruz Partow
Kayhan Kalhor and his kemanche have probably been the most consistent taste of classical Persian music that NYC gets. With annual/biannual performances in NYC, Kalhor has been a regular on the World Music Institutes yearly concerts. With such regular appearances, it is refreshing to see Mr. Kalhor explore new sonorities matched with an atypical ensemble such as Brooklyn Rider. The groups name stems from the “Blue Rider”, a group of pre-World War I art collective based in Munich. Each member has had a relationship with Yo-Yo Ma’s famous Silk Road Ensemble which is how their relationship with Kalhor came about.
The Brooklyn Rider started off the evening with two pieces: one by Giovanni Sollima and the other by Philip Glass. Both displayed the groups precision and virtuosity. The Riders have a great deal of energy, setting a bar for the typical string quartet, standing and moving with expression and vigor. The rest of the evening’s pieces, besides a solo improvisation by Kalhor, were either written or arranged by Colin Jacobsen, one of the group’s violinists. Besides being a great player, he really used the instrumentation to it’s fullest potential. With the addition of double bass and percussion, the Riders with Kalhor played with dynamics and energy.
Kalhor has performed in the past with musicians not only from the Silk Road project, but other musicians outside the classical Persian spectrum. This evening was extremely musical and rarely with any lulls. The band each took turns introducing pieces and discussing their relationship with Kalhor and the trip to Iran they made with him. The cross-cultural endeavor was most successful, being a wonderful collaborative effort.