The Knights at Ravinia / by Doyle Armbrust

Flying in just two days after appearing in Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell, New York City’s Knights, not to be confused with the semiprofessional rugby team, return to Highland Park for a follow-up to their well-received Ravinia debut in 2010. When we last caught up with founders (and brothers) Colin and Eric Jacobsen at an impromptu Manhattan gathering of Juilliard grads, the evening was spent comparing old Beethoven solo-piano LPs. What was clear from that evening, and what is crystal from watching these talents perform, is that their verve for classical music exists just as enthusiastically offstage as on. No surprise then that the group counts Yo-Yo Ma as one of its advocates and collaborators, or that the brothers’ other project, Brooklyn Rider, is an NPR darling.

But the Knights are far more than just a duo, made up of many of the finest young talents in and around the Boroughs. Continuing Ravinia’s Lisztian extravaganza, the ensemble arrives with a program of Schubert (whom Liszt adored) and a solid dose of the prolific Hungarian.

First up are the intimidating brass chords and sublime oboe solo opening the overture to Schubert’s “Rosamunde.” This chamber orchestra routinely takes on repertoire intended for far greater numbers. Piquing our interest is a Jacobsen arrangement of Schubert’s “The Brook’s Lullaby,” from the composer’s song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, and Liszt’s lesser-known symphonic poem “From the Cradle to the Grave.” Busted, U2.

- Doyle Armbrust

published in Time Out Chicago on August 17th, 2011