Like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, or the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia before it got stolen, Washington, D.C. has an important art museum well outside the zone of culture shopping on the National Mall. It's called The Phillips Collection, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, grown from the collection of Duncan Phillips. Distinct from the aim of larger institutions to show a cross-section of art, The Phillips Collection represents the peculiar tastes of its namesake, with stories to tell for many of his acquisitions. Around that personal character, it also hosts public concerts in an intimate Music Room surrounded with paintings by the like of Goya and El Greco, with acoustically resonant wooden walls framing a massive stone mantle. It's quite a place to experience chamber music; I had the pleasure of filming a performance there once, lavishing over the space as much as the music.
Studies II and III for Treatise on the Veil (2005) called for violin, viola and cello. Not really conceptual, but simply a sonic method, the score called for the instruments to have paper clips mounted onto their strings, pulling hard texture and friction from the bows. The studies are named for Cy Twombly's layering of paint and wax crayon on canvas; when the string instruments began to play, an evocation was clear: we could hear Cy Twombly scraping the canvas. Setting that up with pensive development, the score grew hauntingly layered when more than one hand – two and three – added simultaneous friction. And then, the thought of layers on a hard surface concealing things, combined with the tension of revealing them, connected well with Twombly's visual style.