New Classical Tracks®

Brooklyn Rider creates music out of opportunity

Brooklyn Rider's latest album is live from Paliesius, Lithuania.Erin Baiano

New Classical Tracks - Nicholas Cords (Extended)


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May 10, 2023

Brooklyn Rider — The Wanderer (Icy Cold Records)

New Classical Tracks - Nicholas Cords

“We think of the string quartet as a laboratory and learning experience of which there is no end,” says Nicholas Cords the violist for Brooklyn Rider. “We've done so much over our nearly 20-year history, and I think it would be as interesting to us if we only stayed in the world of what we knew.”

Cords says Brooklyn Rider is a string quartet that always has irons in the fire. The ensemble’s latest album, The Wanderer, is its first digital-only release and live album.

“These things often come about through happenstance and opportunity. One of those opportunities was that we knew we would be on tour in Europe last spring,” Cords says. “We would be in Lithuania. We had heard through a friend that there's this amazing place to record there called police. It's about ten kilometers from the Russian border.

“This was a very interesting time to be there as the conflict in Ukraine was not so old at that point. Everybody was on edge,” he says. “But here we were in this amazing retreat that used to be a horse stable. It was enclosed in glass. It turns out this was an amazing place to record.“

Can you talk about the themes in the recording?

“The album is called The Wanderer. We chose this title because it's a famous song by Franz Schubert. Also on this recording is his Death in the Maiden for string quartet. We've all experienced that life has changed over the last few years. This album combines certain dualities in life, such as memory, remembrance, melancholy and bliss, old and new, and life and death, as represented by Schubert's work. It's an album about life's journey.”

Can you talk about Gonzalo Grau’s Aroma a Distancia?

“Gonzalo is a Venezuelan composer but has called many places home. You can hear those influences, from Venezuelan music to Afro-Cuban music to the flamenco.

“The more you dig into any work, you discover it's a web of influences that created that music. All these traditions we have musically are living traditions that continue to change and morph because of other outside influences. That is on display in Aroma a Distancia.”

Can you talk about Osvaldo Golijov’s work he commissioned for Brooklyn Rider?

“This five-movement work depicts a life story from morning to midnight and beyond. It's sort of a metaphor told in the day. A metaphor for life's journey that also ties to the theme of this album.”

Is this the first time Brooklyn Rider has recorded Death and the Maiden?

“Absolutely. It is our first time. This felt like a natural connection, especially with Osvaldo Golijov's music. We were workshopping both quartets at the same time. Osvaldo's favorite thing to do was sit in the room and be a fly on the wall as we rehearsed this Schubert quartet. Schubert is one of his favorite composers.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Brooklyn Rider — The Wanderer (Amazon Music)

Brooklyn Rider — The Wanderer (Bandcamp)

Brooklyn Rider (official site)