Leah Hollingsworth listens to the performance of Chris Thile, Laura Kaminsky, Komitas, Giraudo, Mahler and Vrebalov at New York’s Crypt at the Church of the Intercession on 30 November 2023

Enterprising programming from Sybarite 5. Photo: Steven Pisano

Enterprising programming from Sybarite 5. Photo: Steven Pisano

Rhythmic energy was a driving force throughout Sybarite 5’s programme, presented by Death of Classical in the Crypt at the Church of the Intercession. I was immediately taken by the electricity of the interplay between second violin and viola in Chris Thile’s Movement and Location, the opening work. Yann’s Flight by Shawn Conley painted a sound picture of aerial movement, highlighted by unisons played with impressive clarity and precise intonation. Perhaps the ricochet of the violins and the arpeggiation of the viola detracted a bit from the melodic line in Radiohead’s Weird Fishes, but Laura Kaminsky’s Overflow (receiving its world premiere) suggested that beauty of sound – reflecting the world’s physical beauty – can exist within a harsh cultural moment, as expressed in aggressive chords and semiquavers.

Three of Komitas’s Armenian folksongs (arranged by Sybarite 5) followed, with the first especially soulful. Latin bassist and composer Pedro Giraudo’s Con un nudo en la garganta was also quite beautiful, marrying well rhythmic energy and melodic intent. Next came an arrangement of Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony no.5 and the grit in the ensemble sound made for a raw and very human approach to this profoundly moving work.

Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov’s My Desert, My Rose concluded the programme and Sybarite 5’s rhythmic drive and passionate melodic lines brought this robust work to an intense climax and the unforgettable evening to a close. Presenter Andrew Ousley did it again: bringing extraordinary artists to an innovative setting and a highly appreciative audience.