Similarly, “Crane Palimpsest,” he said, moves fluidly between “music that we would identify as being classical in nature … and a very sophisticated kind of pop music.” Fittingly, the second word in the work's title refers to a reused parchment that reveals multiple layers of old text beneath new.
“What's going on in the piece,” Gabriel Kahane explained by phone, “is an exploration of whether a kind of formal concert language can coexist in the same space with a more harmonically open vernacular language, without it feeling disjointed.
“I think if I were to try to dissect how I ended up doing what I'm doing,” he said of his multifaceted and iconoclastic pursuits, “it would be very much a function of having grown up in a house where my dad would practice a Mozart concerto, then take a break and put on a Joni Mitchell record. His not imposing a kind of hierarchy of genre really instilled in me the idea that, as Duke Ellington said, ‘There are two kinds of music. Good music and the other kind.' “