Bob Boilen

Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.

Maya Beiser's Twitter handle — @CelloGoddess — says it all. She's a brilliant cellist with a stunning command of her instrument, and she's tightly tied to technology. Beiser takes the sound of her cello and runs it through loop pedals, effects and other electronics to make her instrument shimmer, drone and groove. Then there's her magnificent sense of melody.

How can music be happy and sad at the same time? Listen to Olafur Arnalds and you'll hear it. Depending on your mood, the tone changes, and a song that may have been uplifting one day sounds like an elegy the next. It's spacious, undeniably beautiful work. Much of the music performed in this concert, recorded on April 18 at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, is drawn from the Icelandic musician's recent album For Now I Am Winter.

This just in: Aliens from pretty far away have been listening to music from Earth for the past 35 years. As it turns out, the planet's only redeeming quality is our music. From a legal standpoint this is great news, the biggest copyright violation since forever. That's the first thing you want to know about Rob Reid's smart and wacky novel Year Zero, out this week.

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