Denver Post – thumbs up for Mandolin Concerto

Chris ThileThe Denver Post has weighed in on the official debut of Chris Thile’s Mandolin Concerto withthe Colorado Symphony on Thursday night (9/17).

Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post Fine Arts Critic, was enthusiast about the piece, and hailed Thile as “up-and-coming classical composer with almost unlimited potential.”

The 25-minute piece would have been an admirable accomplishment for anyone. But considering that the mandolinist is just 28, is not classically trained and has never written an orchestral work before, it is nothing short of astounding.

Although it is a wonderful solo vehicle for him, the virtuoso player that he is, the concerto is not a showpiece. There are no big flourishes, no grand gestures to win over audiences.

It is a tightly wound, introspective work suffused with a melancholic, even gently haunting feeling. The sometimes spare, sometimes layered piece stays well within the bounds of tonality, looking back at times to Bela Bartok and the early 20th century.

The mandolin is not an obvious concerto instrument, but Thile skillfully integrates it into the whole, demonstrating a natural gift for orchestration. The work scatters handsome solos around the orchestra and sets up intriguing inner dialogues with the mandolin and other instruments.

Read the full review online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.