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Gregorio ZANON (b. 1980)
Romanèche Rhapsody for Solo Cello and String Quintet (2006) [14:09]
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]
Terpsycordes 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]

Zanon 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 this disc.
Claves 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 here.
Jonathan Woolf


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