Violist Nadia Sirota is best known for her singular sound and expressive execution, coaxing works and collaborations from the likes of Daníel Bjarnason, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter and Missy Mazzoli. Nico Muhly is a composer of chamber music, orchestral music, sacred music, opera, ballet and music for collaborators across a variety of fields in addition to arranging music by Antony & The Johnsons, Björk, Grizzly Bear and The National. Nico is also the cofounder of Icelandic record label Bedroom Community, alongside Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurðsson.
When Nico had the opportunity to write a bona fide viola concerto, there was no question that the piece would be premiered by Nadia, whose input has influenced Nico’s writing throughout their history of intimate collaboration. Nadia points out that Nico’s compositions, in particular ‘Keep In Touch’, have influenced her playing: Valgeir’s unforgiving recording of those sessions - actually designed to highlight the flaws in her sound - encouraged her to play more boldly and transparently, “to show my work,” she says, in what has become one of the defining features of her style.
Recorded with The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the piece demands a virtuosity of expression, forcing the viola to navigate extremes of register and the huge leaps between them, or to freight a naked, sustained note with rapidly changing musical and psychological dynamics. While the piece may have a tragic ending, as Nadia believes it does, this concerto’s very existence suggests a far less lonesome narrative for its real-life creators.