String Orchestra of Brooklyn


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In live performances, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn has promoted contemporary music but also sought to "democratize" the concertgoing experience, in part by playing familiar music. On Afterimage, the orchestra's debut release, the group takes a simple, innovative approach to the problem: it includes two historical works, the Caprice No. 6 for solo violin in G minor ("The Trill") of Paganini, and the first movement of the Stabat Mater of Pergolesi, preceded by contemporary treatments of these works. The term "remix" isn't included in the graphics, but it may be relevant. For Stabat Mater Dolorosa, composer Jacob Cooper's take on the Pergolesi, one may more readily think of Notre Dame organum, with its vastly stretched-out choral structures based on segments on Gregorian chant. Cooper takes seven minutes to even get to the beginning of the text, and early minimalist textures are in evidence, but a link in mood with the Pergolesi persists, and putting the new works ahead of their models, which at first seems annoying, works at a basic musical level. The same is true of Christopher Cerrone's High Windows, which deconstructs the Paganini Caprice. The String Orchestra of Brooklyn, an all-volunteer group, holds up under the considerable pressure of the 27-minute Cooper work, and in general, this is an appealing example of the work of new composers who are trying to forge connections with historical classical repertory.

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