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.