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The Knights: Insider tipp at Elbphilharmonie

04.26.17
The Knights
Hamburger Abendblatt

The New York ensemble The Knights feels musical genre borders are there to be ignored. Narrow-minded critics have come up with the mean notion of 'box offixe poison' for cross-country ensembles such as The Knights, as profit-driven presenters would not believe for a long time, too long time in fact, that one could present music from all sorts of regions and styles without causing financial distress due to intellectual overkill. These two dozen musicians from Brooklyn give a damn about accounting and playfully combine early music with avantgarde, great classics with world music - constantly blowing away audiences because this mix is simply irresistibly refined.
 
The Knights are a rock band without any guitars - an orchestra of a different kind. Founded by the Jacobsen brothers about two decades ago with students from Juilliard as a round table of knights attending to all musical tastes, since the appetite grows with eating. It all started with chamber music test sessions that by and by got out of hand. Several Knights come from the Silk Road Project community created by Yo-Yo Ma, others perform and compose. Many individualists. They have been part of virtually every off festival in New York, joined by independent minds like soprano Dawn Upshaw, banjo player Bela Fleck, jazz sax Joshua Redman or clarinetist Kinan Azmeh. That has not earned them global stardom, nor great wealth, but they clearly have lots of fun being collectively very, very different.
 
Their appearance at the Main Hall of the Elbphilharmonie tomorrow, sold out as always, has long been overdue. And if in this rising music place that Hamburg has become there is any sense of justice and programming vision in searching star residencies for the future, they should be invited back real quick. For it is this special set that the local musical program is still lacking. (...) Those interested who are not among the happy few who obtained one of the 2,073 seats can only check one of their recordings, but that 'only' comes in big quotation marks: The Knights may know well enough how to do straightforward classical, as their solid Beethoven recordings demonstrate, but their true strength are the concept album lucky bags: As when, for 'A Second of Silence' they combined Schubert, Glass, Debussy, and Feldman. (...) Their latest album 'Azul' lifts off into heavenly spheres. 'Ascending Bird' is a seven-minute fliying stunt for Yo-Yo Ma's cello (watch and admire on YouTube), then moving on to the most charmingly presented Song to the Moon from Dvorak's Rusalka. And it gets even more beautiful: another cello concerto, by Argentine Osvaldo Golijov, then Stockhausen's 'Leo' from his Zodiac cycle, presented with an almost kindergarten-like sense of charm, until a suite from singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens' pieces form the closing accord for this album that will remain unparalleled for a very long time."