In Tuesday’s (8/2) Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein interviews composer Nico Muhly, whose “life has been a breathless whirl of activity, of late. Anybody would have trouble sorting it all out. … But what he really wanted to talk about with me was a project closer to home for Chicago listeners: ‘The Edge of the World,’ his new concerto for five pianos and orchestra, written for The 5 Browns and commissioned by the Ravinia Festival. The young sibling pianists will perform the world premiere with James Conlon conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Tuesday night at Ravinia. … The title, ‘Edge of the World,’ is meant to suggest both the limitless expanses of the extreme North (Muhly began sketching the concerto during a sojourn at the northernmost town in Iceland) and the vast deserts of Utah, the state where the Brown family resides. The orchestra plays a supporting role, with the pianists rattling through what Muhly calls ‘a ton of notes in interlocking patterns,’ each soloist in turn driving the hard-edged musical conversation forward. ‘Except for one bar where the orchestra plays alone, the piece is all piano, all the time,’ he added. ‘It doesn’t feel like there are five soloists—it feels like you’re hearing one big hyper-piano.’ ”

Posted August 4, 2011