Music » In Rotation

In Rotation: CSO violinist Blair Milton on Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Plus: The Reader’s Tal Rosenberg on the right way to listen to Ricardo Villalobos, violinist and personal trainer Barbara Queen on the best chin rest, and more

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Kate Bush, The Kick Inside
  • Kate Bush, The Kick Inside

Tal Rosenberg, Reader digital content editor

Ricardo Villalobos on CD I was surprised to see a year-end post by critic Simon Reynolds ranking Villalobos's latest, Dependent and Happy, as his third-favorite album of the year. On another blog of his, he explained that he rediscovered the Chilean-German minimal-techno producer and DJ in 2012; as a longtime fan, I was intrigued by Reynolds's assertion that Villalobos's albums sound way better on CD than as MP3s. At Gramophone I found a copy of 2004's Thé au Harem d'Archimede—20 bucks for the stupid import, but worth it. Villalobos's music is glitchy techno with pinholes poked in it, through which chirps and clicks and tiny pops seem to leak—and his attention to detail is much more apparent on CD.

Kate Bush, The Kick Inside When I was 18 years old I was throwing away money in unspectacular fashion as a college freshman. When Kate Bush was 18 she was writing cyclonic songs about Emily Bronte and performing interpretive dance to them.

Teri DeSario, "Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You" Teri DeSario's 1978 hit was written by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, who was smart enough to know that his band would've ruined it. The song has the elegant disco surfaces of late-70s Bee Gees material, but instead of a trio of high-pitched harmonies on top Gibb opted for DeSario's not-quite-Donna Summer purr.

Rosenberg is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Calder Quartet, Winter Chamber Music Festival - CORINNE CHIN
  • Corinne Chin
  • Calder Quartet, Winter Chamber Music Festival

Blair Milton, Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist, assistant professor of violin at Northwestern University

Winter Chamber Music Festival I'm currently in the middle of this year's Winter Chamber Music Festival, a series I started at Northwestern several years ago. It consists of six (this year seven) concerts over three weekends in January at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston. Musicians come from far and wide to participate. It's a yearlong endeavor to find the mixture of music—old and new, familiar and not—that will interest our audience, as well as the musicians who will bring it to life. We're about halfway through the series now, with four concerts to go. Planning for next season is well under way, with some really great people and music already lined up.

Summer Violin Institute I'm also involved with putting together Northwestern's summer workshop of violin master classes. This is the program's third year, with great teachers coming here from all over to work with a talented group of budding professional violinists.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Piano Trio Right now I'm delving into an exciting piano trio by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, an acclaimed American composer (she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983, becoming the first woman ever to win the award for music), for a performance in a few weeks.

Milton is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Catherine Russell - STEFAN FALKE
  • Stefan Falke
  • Catherine Russell

Barbara Queen, Violinist and personal trainer

In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores In 2011 violinist Hilary Hahn commissioned 27 short pieces for violin and piano from composers around the world. I heard her perform half of them in October of that year and was mesmerized by the haunting, unfamiliar works—Hahn has a unique sound and a brilliant technique, and it's always exhilarating to hear something new. I'm looking forward to hearing the other half of the series, both live and recorded. A printed edition would be a welcome treat as well.

Catherine Russell I've always been a huge fan of jazz and blues, and my music collection is full of Ella, Billie, Etta, Aretha. . . . I recently discovered Catherine Russell and was blown away by her powerful sound and smooth melodic craftsmanship. She has an exquisite voice and plays with phrasing in the most delightful, effortless way. I heard her live for the first time this fall, and it was one of the most wonderful concerts I've ever attended.

Kréddle The most comfortable chin rest for the violin. The ergonomics of the instrument are not user friendly, and a wooden wedge shoved into your neck is no exception. An adjustable chin rest is a refreshing departure from the one-size-fits-all approach to playing. The innovator of this ingenious product, violinist Jordan Hayes, just reached his fund-raising goal on Kickstarter. Production is about to start, and I hope to have my own Kréddle by the summer!

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