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The Knights, Steve Reich: 'Duet' For Two Violins And Strings

The Knights play a mix of Reich, Bach, Stravinsky and a couple of their own compositions on their new album.
The Knights
The Knights play a mix of Reich, Bach, Stravinsky and a couple of their own compositions on their new album.

Even trailblazing composers like Steve Reich sometimes look to the distant past for inspiration. His 1993 Duet for two violins and strings is music in which minimalism reaches back to its ancient roots. These six minutes of mesmerizing sunshine recall both the rigorous counterpoint of J.S. Bach and the feather-light interlocking vocal parts of Pérotin, a 12th-century French composer.

Violinists Ariana Kim and Guillaume Pirard pass gleaming melodic cells back and forth, while a body of strings drones and pulses below; sometimes they finish each other's phrases or sing out in a quick call and response.

It's a lovely and welcoming opener to the ground beneath our feet, a new album from the young musicians of the chamber orchestra The Knights. Bach, Stravinsky, Reich and even a couple of the ensemble's own adventurous compositions commingle on this satisfying new release.

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Tom Huizenga
Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.