Luca Francesconi is one of the most prominent Italian composer of his generation with a substantial and varied output to his credit. The release under review provides a good idea of his output although all the works recorded here are already some ten or twenty years old. Da Capo (1986) for small ensemble is the earliest work here and is probably one of Francesconi’s best-known and most popular. It is not difficult to understand why. It is a brilliantly scored, colourful piece full of nice instrumental touches and lively rhythms, although it opens and ends in a rather subdued manner. The other works were all composed at about the same time: between 1994 and 1995. They, too, display a considerable variety of means and moods. Etymo is the most substantial both in length and in content. The title, Etymo (as in etymology) is about the search for the origin and development of language. It sets texts from various poems from Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal for soprano, large ensemble and electronics. The final words are drawn from Baudelaire’s Carnets intimes.
Based in Paris, Ensemble Intercontemporain is one of the leading performance organizations devoted to new music, and is closely associated with composer/conductor Pierre Boulez, a leader of the European avant-garde establishment. Boulez developed the idea of the Ensemble during the planning stages for IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique).
The first commercial recording of Chaya Czernowin’s monumental work for string quartet and electronics, HIDDEN, is released on November 24 by WERGO. The recording features the JACK Quartet, for whom the work was written, along with IRCAM engineers Carlo Laurenzi and Jeremie Henrot. The album also includes a recording of Czernowin’s recent work for solo voice, Adiantum Capillus-Veneris: Etudes in Fragility, performed by mezzo-soprano Inbal Hever. Czernowin describes HIDDEN as “a very slow moving, 45-minute experience, which transforms the ear into an eye.” The work is a striking aural landscape that offers a unique opportunity for sonic observation and perceptual exploration. The US premiere of HIDDEN at the ICA in Boston was chosen as one of the “Best 10 Musical Events of 2016” by Steve Smith in the Log Journal and featured as a “current obsession” by Alex Ross on WQXR.