The Knights, The Kreutzer Project, Eric Jacobsen, Hearing Beethoven, Janacek, Jacobsen, Klein

When we enter the world of digital verbiage, the slightest mistype might destroy all previous writing. That just happened to me here after two hours of thinking the article through. So I start again, like perhaps Beethoven might have done if he had digital files on his Violin Sonata No. 9, The “Kreutzer Sonata,” and perhaps Tolstoy might have also, in his Novella with the same name, or for that matter Janacek and his “Kreutzer” String Quartet No. 1. It is wonderful of course that this all has been “saved” for us to hear and ponder today.

I return and give you the bare bones, the basic outline of the CD at hand. The innovative and adventurous ensemble of the Knights, under the very capable tutelage of conductor Eric Jacobsen, furnish us with a kind of glowingly thoughtful program of Kreutzer-based thematic flow, on a CD entitled The Kreutzer Project (Avie AV255).

Rather than try to re-rehearse the underlying conceptual life this program assumes, I will leave that to you to uncover yourself if and when you decide to jump into the experience of reading the liners and thinking through how they apply, as you uncover the meaningful hearing of the program. Suffice to say that the Knights make you want to get inside the music, and so too the reworkings of the music and its performances will give you the answer that counts.

The Beethoven “Kreutzer Sonata” gains  power and girth with a re-orchestration appropriately dubbed “The Kreutzer Symphony.” It is bookended with an equally revealing orchestral version of Janacek’s “Kreutzer Sonata” or in other words historically the first string quartet, here in similar fashion reworked into a startling version for symphonic orchestral doings.

In between we have two striking modern day orchestral works that take the Classical-Romantic impetus behind the Beethoven and the Janacek, reworking it all as the past becomes a kind of Modern musical soup rendering. So very entrancing are these two works, fully worthy of a centering in the program. Just listen to them and you will see, Colin Jacobsen’s “Kreutzings” and  Anna Clyne’s “Shorthand” show us how the past can transform, authentically bi-stylistic like Foss’s “Baroque Variations” yet wholly unto themselves. Bravo.

There is so much going for this album that a detailed foray into it via sonic communing is of course the only true way to experience it, so I leave you to it if you will. The reworkings and the fine performance excellence makes this a real highlight of this year’s possible offerings. Listen and listen some more. Highly recommended.


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