Mandolinist Chris Thile Brings Novel Juxtapositions to Zankel Hall

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Thursday October 24, 2013

From The New York Times

By: Vivien Schweitzer

The most impressive musicians are often versatile, but few match the breadth of the brilliant mandolinist Chris Thile. Even in an era when eclecticism is the prevailing aesthetic, Mr. Thile, a member of the progressive-bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers, stands out for his novel artistic juxtapositions.

On Tuesday evening at Zankel Hall, Mr. Thile opened the program with a gorgeously rendered Adagio from Bach’s Sonata in G minor, then segued without pause into a bluegrass song. A charismatic, entertaining and often self-deprecating host, Mr. Thile wove witty commentary into his program of bluegrass songs and Bach excerpts.

Mr. Thile (pronounced THEE-lee), who recently recorded Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin on Nonesuch, joked about what Bach might have thought of the mandolin. But given the vast range of Bach transcriptions for combinations as unlikely as jazz trios and saxophone quartets, playing Bach on the mandolin doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched.

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