All but one of these
pieces are for solo violin. This generous
selection brilliantly demonstrates the
wide ranging approach adopted by contemporary
composers from various generations and
horizons, both musically and geographically.
The earliest work here
is Berio’s well-known Sequenza
VIII, which is – as far as I
am concerned – one of the finest in
the whole Sequenza series. Written
for Carlo Chiarappa, whom I once heard
play this very piece, the work exploits
some limited basic material with much
invention and imagination, without ever
resorting to any "gimmick"
of modern violin playing. It is superbly
written for the instrument; and, as
most other pieces here, calls for considerable
virtuosity and musicality. It is an
accessible and most rewarding piece
are rather more demanding, Intermedio
alla Ciaccona particularly so.
Intermedio is one of the solo
pieces that are part of Ferneyhough’s
cycle Carceri d’Invenzione;
never recorded complete. The music is
technically exacting. In comparison,
the later Unsichtbare Farben
("Invisible Colours") is on
the whole more accessible, although
still demanding. This may be due to
the fact that the music obliquely refers
to some borrowed material - in this
case, part of Ockeghem’s Missa Caput
- and to the melodic and even melodious
character of much of the music.
Young’s music is new to me. His Animali
for solo violin is part of a series
of pieces under the title of Val
Camonica inspired by bronze
age carvings from the Camonica valley
in northern Italy. The player has to
switch between normal and graphic notation.
We are also told that the entire last
page of the score consists of the cave
drawings being superimposed on a blank
music stave. I still do not know how
music can be made this way, but I must
admit that this piece is fine indeed.
Patrick De Clerck is
not only the driving force of Megadisc
but also a very fine composer whose
music is available in two other Megadisc
releases (MDC 7847 and MDC 7866). Ai
Morti for solo violin is an
attractive piece, often modally inflected,
in which contrapuntal writing is brilliantly
suggested. In some parts of the work,
the violinist has to add humming tones,
then achieving some real counterpoint.
5 is for violin and CD-Player.
Pre-recorded sounds on the CD are aeroplane
noises and whiffs of pop song, whereas
the violin is "prepared" with
a small plastic clothes peg. Well, yes,
but this long (too long) piece amounts
to very little of any real musical substance.
As far as I am concerned, this piece
of musical vacuum is the only real disappointment
in this otherwise superb release.
Hemmi is a very fine
player with a remarkable technique,
who – judging from the photographs on
the cover and in the insert notes –
has also developed a rather personal,
idiosyncratic playing style that probably
adds to his performances in public,
although I am not at all sure that such
acrobatics are really necessary. Fortunately
enough, his playing is eloquent and
may be fully appreciated without the
visual aspect. Well worth investigating.