The cellist Matt Haimovitz has for some time been staking out his claim as a classical-music innovator, getting attention for doing things like playing Bach in nightclubs. The pianist Christopher O’Riley, meanwhile, has been building a reputation as the man who performs classical-piano arrangements of Radiohead and other bands. Last fall, the two of them got together and issued a two-CD set, “Shuffle.Play.Listen,” blending genres and styles in a way that echoes the actual listening experience of most iPod-owning music lovers. And they brought this show — excerpts of the CD, that is — to George Mason University on Saturday night.
The problem wasn’t that it remade the classical music experience. The problem was that it didn’t go far enough.
Don’t get me wrong; I love a good traditional classical concert. But I also welcome new approaches, and this didn’t really seem to be one.
Yes, it included two excerpts of Bernard Herrmann’s score to “Vertigo,” arranged by O’Riley, and arrangements of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” and “Misery is a Butterfly” by the group Blonde Redhead. And yes, it’s refreshingly different to hear this music juxtaposed with works by Janacek (“Pohatka”), Anton Webern (the gorgeous three Op. 11 pieces for cello and piano, bracketed by two pieces he wrote as a teenager), and Stravinsky (two movements of the “Suite Italienne,” the arrangement of “Pulcinella” he wrote for cellist Gregor Piatigorsky). You can’t fault the program: It offered a tremendous range of music, with a lot to like and a great mixture of the familiar and the new (whether “familiar,” to you, is Stravinsky or Arcade Fire’s “In the Backseat”).