The Knights

A Second of Silence

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The title of this release by the freelance New York orchestra the Knights conveys little about its contents, and the buyer who turns to the program may be more than a little mystified to see Satie, Schubert, Philip Glass, and Morton Feldman cheek by jowl. The mystery is intended to be resolved by the program notes, which quote Feldman's statement: "That kind of hovering, as if you're in a register you've never heard. That's one of the magics of Schubert." Is this highly subjective reaction enough to link two major, multimovement Schubert works, the Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200, and the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 ("Unfinished"), to works from the minimalist repertory and to Satie, who doubtless ranks as a predecessor? The mileage certainly will vary. The Schubert symphonies hardly "hover"; they're filled with contrasts, and furthermore with contrasts that were unprecedented for the time in which they were composed. Perhaps Feldman had in mind some of the almost harmonically static music Schubert might pair with lyric poetry in songs like the Wandrers Nachtlied II, D. 768. To make the symphonies fit with orchestrally arranged Gymnopédies, Glass' Samuel Beckett-inspired Company, and Feldman's undeniably charming Madame Press Died Last Week at 90, the Knights have to smooth the Schubert textures out. This the group is eminently capable of doing; this is an agile small band that's compelling to listen to just for its musical surfaces, and it deserves credit for consistently trying new programming ideas. Fans of the group will likely be intrigued, but newcomers might start with their Mozart album instead.

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