Chris Thile gives Strathmore crowd a thrilling performance

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Thursday October 31, 2013

From The Washington Post

Chris Thile gives Strathmore crowd a thrilling performance
By: Robert Battey

Let it be known: Chris Thile is amazing. This MacArthur Fellowship grant winner ‘” who composes, sings, arranges and plays a mean mandolin ‘” wowed a packed Strathmore Music Center audience Wednesday evening.

Performing solo for two solid hours, without sitting or barely catching his breath, Thile offered a dizzying hodgepodge of his own bluegrass-tinged compositions, Bach, Fiona Apple, a solo version of a cut from his ‘Goat Rodeo’ album (in collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and others), a Civil War song and other ephemera drawn from seemingly everywhere. One song’s extended intro consisted entirely of rhythmic sound effects. He is impelled and possessed by his music; at times he looked like a marionette whose controller was fending off an attack.

The concert’s centerpiece and bookends were solo violin works of Bach, the G Minor Sonata and the B Minor Partita, which Thile recently recorded. It was neither a transcription nor arrangement, since the mandolin is tuned identically to the violin; it was simply the music plucked rather than bowed. Given the extreme complexity of the pieces, Thile’s note-perfect renditions were delivered with considerably less freedom and energy than his closer-to-home material.

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