The empowering culmination of 23 years of collaborations between pianist Richie Beirach and violinist Gregor Huebner, Crossing Borders is a prodigious, multi-faceted ensemble work with the WDR Big Band that, as per its title, celebrates the ability of music and art to transcend the spiritually limiting realities of xenophobia and tribal-based politics.
The all-original set centers on two intricate, alternately rousing and graceful, explosive and hushed, booming and graceful three movement concertos for the duo’s respective solo instruments and orchestra. Huebner is the melodic focal point of “Violin Concerto No. 3,.” wraps its thematic heart around the devastation, mourning and ultimate hope and healing in the wake of a devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal. The violinist wrote “Piano Concerto No. 3: The Code” as a testament to the duo’s “code of playing music at a high level – and a glorious, historically steeped, often highly personal showcase for Beirach’s versatile approach to jazz and classical structure.
The concertos are bookended with playfully revamped versions of pieces that Beirach wrote earlier in his career, starting with the medley “Rectilinear/Paradox” (featuring the pianist on electric piano) and continuing through “Elm” from 1979 and “Pendulum” from a year earlier. It’s wonderful to see two versatile veteran musical soul mates so artfully celebrate their own seamless intuitive interaction while pointing our hearts towards a brighter future for mankind.