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Gregorio ZANON (b.
Romanèche Rhapsody for Solo Cello and String Quintet
String Quartet No.2 Légende à Quatre (2005) [10:55]
Concerto Grosso for String Quintet and Piano (2003) [22:45]
String Quartet No.1 (2001 revised 2006) [22:53]
Quartet; Mark Drobinsky (piano); Jocelyne Rudasigwa (double-bass);
Xavier Dami (piano)
rec. La Chaix-de-Fonds, Salle de Musique, May 2006.
CLAVES 50-2606 [70:57]
is a young, Swiss-born composer whose teachers have included
Jean Balissat and Dominic Muldowney. He began quite late,
starting piano lessons at eleven but subsequently studied
with Xavier Dami of the Geneva Opera House, who plays on
have here produced a folio of his works performed by artists
who have proved to be staunch proponents of Zanon’s music.
They range from the 2001 Quartet – revised in 2006 - to the
most recent, the Romanèche Rhapsody for Solo Cello
and String Quintet. All the works here bar the Concerto
Grosso are performed by their dedicatees. And in the
case of the Concerto, which is dedicated to Richard Llewellyn,
it’s here performed in its chamber version as it was originally
written for a string orchestra.
The Romanèche Rhapsody was
also first performed in a version for cello and string orchestra
in Geneva in March 2006, though it was conceived for chamber
forces. It falls into clear sections and is predicated on
a dialogue between seven chords and the actual theme. Zanon
here shows some affiliations with the folkloric muse and
also with dance rhythms. He feints toward a tango rhythm
but also laces the score with many a piquant colour, isn’t
afraid to employ pizzicati or even some strangely cosmic
sounds. The idiom is broadly traditional but embraces rhythmic
vitality and freshness of spirit.
The Second String Quartet
employs microtones but as the composer points out the broader
super-structure is the alternation between tutti and solo
instruments. This is the kind of binary-type opposition that
Zanon seems to favour. Some of the solo violin statements
sound securely grounded in the authoritative solo violin
lineage – Ysaÿe doesn’t sound so far away. But Zanon also
inveigles some Eastern-sounding music as well and some themes
that sound vaguely like refracted Zigeuner. Once more the
rhythms sway with dance-like vivacity, another distinguishing
feature of his compositions.
That Concerto Grosso sounds
vibrant enough in its reduced form with piano. It employs
a wide-ranging neo-baroque style though it does winnow to
elliptical high-lying treble statements. Cast in four movements
we find a lot of “rotational” writing and it sounds highly
atmospheric with the piano at times seeming to evoke a harp.
This is the most traditional of the quartet of works, lying
pretty securely in the neo-classical tradition.
The First Quartet is the
earliest work here and shows some late-Romantic influence.
Zanon was only twenty-one when he wrote it. But his affiliations
with neo-classical writing seem to have won out in the end.
It’s an intensely vibrant work but stylistically and technically
rather unfocused. He hadn’t yet found his direction and the
lure of competing influences tells.
Zanon has been very well
served by Claves and by his eloquent interpreters. His music
is strong on vitality and expressive warmth – no chill winds
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