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Nina Shekhar’s Cajón

Watch & Listen

A 39-year veteran of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Barry Gold got to try out some techniques he’s never used before in this extraordinary new piece for solo cello by 26-year-old Nina Shekhar (also a flutist, pianist, and saxophonist). The title, Cajón, refers to a Peruvian percussion instrument, a box that the player sits on and hits with different parts of his hands.

Not surprisingly, Shekhar’s piece is percussive in nature and calls upon the cellist to hit different parts of the cello with his left and even his right hand. At numerous points, the player must stamp the floor with their foot, often while still playing with their hands. In addition to pizzicato and harmonics, the cellist also plays brief phrases in the standard manner, including music that sounds folk-like and even haunting. Near the end the music becomes more and more intense and virtuosically demanding. Needless to say, it requires tremendous concentration from the player. But for the listener, it is gripping from the get-go.