Not everyone gets it. The nuance of classical music, and how it's not just a lullaby of string instruments. The palpable difference between collaboration and true friendship among musicians. Not to mention the power of a good groove, no matter how you define it.
Who does get it? Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim of the New York Times. In a rave review published today of Asia Society's February 7 concert featuring the incomparable pipa player Wu Man and Brooklyn-based classical troupe The Knights, Fonseca-Wollheim is reminded of the power of "friendship in music" and '"how much music gains when it is performed by friends who delight as much in their art as in one another’s company."
A "gutsy rendition" of Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks gives Fonseca-Wollheim a glimpse into that relationship where musicians catch each other's eye in the middle of passionate performance, and share moments of visible camaraderie for the audience to see.
A sense of "shared humor and trust" is prominently displayed in Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa with String Orchestra — cited as a "delightful piece" in which Wu's expert skills showed the range of the pipa, from "translucent beads of sound" to "sustained singing phrases."
Wu's own composition Blue and Green is recognized for its folk inspiration and the delight of "cross-dressing" Western instruments to sound as if they're of Chinese origin.
Lastly, Darius Mihaud's Le Boeuf sur le Toit reminds Fonseca-Wollheim more of a cast party than a concert piece, with the "raucous dance score" moving the musicians as well as audiences.
Video: Individual pieces on YouTube
Igor Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks
Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa with String Orchestra
Claude Debussy's Prelude a l’après-midi d’un faune
Darius Milhaud's Le Boeuf sur le Toit
Wu Man's Blue and Green
Video: Watch the complete concert (1 hr., 52 min.)