. . . one of those events that crossed boundaries and perhaps explained their victory . . . For me it conjured up all sorts of strange conjunctions . . . Nicholas Collon's Aurora is a fabulous band, a small but extremely virtuoso group whose musical sympathies are enormously wide . . . [Nico Muhly's 2008 violin concerto, Seeing is Believing] is a fascinating piece. And it's one that once again reveals that Muhly has a compositional voice that deserves serious attention . . . a work that's rigorous, harmonically challenging and choc-full of imagination. (Is there a more genre-hopping musician around today than Muhly?).
Like so much of Muhly's music, it is immediately engaging and fresh, with some delicious sounds and striking moments, especially the keening glissandi for the solo violin that open the work . . .
. . . fascinating arrangements of 16th- century choral motets . . .
. . . superb performances . . . think Muhly, think youthful no-rules classical, full of cross-genre inventiveness, and indeed that's exactly what you get with "Seeing Is Believing" . . . It's genius. They're mesmerising complements to his original compositions, which are edgy, sometimes delicate, vital works, heavy with the influence of the great American minimalists but also drawing from modern electronic idioms. The title-track, a concerto for electric violin, is a case in point, played with brilliance by Thomas Gould. Equally brilliant are the Aurora Orchestra's performances. In the motet arrangements, their playing style is a delicious amalgam of early and contemporary playing styles, whilst the original works are presented with energy, dynamism and a sheer joy in the music. If Muhly is a new name to you, then this beautifully performed disc is the one to get hold of. His music is clever, young, complex and multi-faceted. It's also capable of beguiling listeners of all ages, classical 'experts' and newcomers alike. You can't ask for more than that.
. . . why do I keep hearing Vaughan Williams? "Seeing is Believing", the title track of the AO's all-Muhly disc, opens like a 21st-century "Lark Ascending", with violinist Thomas Gould soaring in ecstatic innocence. Like Vaughan Williams, Muhly's arrangements of Byrd and Gibbons anthems begin with muted palettes that brighten progressively. "Step Team", the least nostalgic work, is the most convincing, with a phenomenal bass trombone solo.
. . . [Gibbons]: colorful and expressive . . . spicy, cool, and refreshing . . . [Muhly: "Seeing is believing"]: stunningly played by Thomas Gould. It is hard to imagine performances more assured and expressive than these by Nicholas Collon and the Aurora Orchestra. One of the most ear-catching discs to come my way in a long time.