A Playlist Without Borders

A Playlist Without Borders

Named after the historic network of overland routes between Europe and the Pacific Ocean, The Silk Road Ensemble has always made its mission cultural exchange through music. On the group’s fifth album, a ninth-century Buddhist melody (“Night Thoughts”) is on equal footing with surf-rock riffs (“Briel”). The modern eight-movement large group effort “A Playlist for an Extreme Occasion” is a few songs away from the classical solo piece “Allegretto from Partita, Op. 31 for Cello Solo.” Founder Yo-Yo Ma is highlighted on the latter, but standout performances also come in the gaita (Spanish bagpipes) playing of Cristina Pato on several pieces, Kayhan Kalhor’s kamancheh on “Atashgah,” and the malleable percussion of Sandeep Das and Shane Shanahan. Also of note is composer David Bruce’s dramatic four-part “Cut the Rug,” which moves between galloping Mongolian folk rhythms and panoramic Western classical vistas. This is music of the past, present, and future, all living in harmony.

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