From the opening bars, this is music that has an impact. The fragmented
style of Opus XI, a trio for piano, mezzo-soprano and reciter,
has the effect of keeping the listener alert and creating a differing
array of textures. It is rare for the instruments to sound simultaneously;
there are short solo passages and duos, but very few (if any)
moments where all three are used at the same time. The style is
slightly reminiscent of Stravinsky - Oedipus Rex springs
to mind, particularly because of the use of a male narrator -
and the fluidity of the Italian text is beautifully maintained.
The text is taken from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, and the musical
treatment is suitably dramatic.
is a short duo for piano and mezzo-soprano, which reminded me
of the poetic moments in Boulez’s Le Marteau sans Maitre;
Castor has a wonderful talent for shaping melodic phrases and
creating a contemporary lyricism in her works. Opus X,
the first homage to Berio, is a trio for alto, mezzo-soprano
and violin, using texts by Paul Celan and Emily Dickinson. This
is a haunting work which uses language and the differing timbres
of alto and mezzo voices to excellent effect.
second homage to Berio, Opus XII, is a duo for violin
and double bass. Castor’s lyricism remains in her instrumental
writing, and she makes careful use of tone colours for musical
variety. The clarinet solo, Opus XIII, - described as
a ‘duo for clarinet solo’ - makes use of multiphonics within
the melodic line. With a composer so concerned with melody,
as Castor is, it is unsurprising that she is a fine exponent
of single line music. Solo pieces can be among the more difficult
compositional challenges, but this work is crafted with a sense
of fluidity and naturalness, and is a testament to Castor’s
opening of the String Quartet, Opus IV, is homophonic
and contrasts well with the previous works on the disc. This
is a captivating work, which shows an understanding of the medium.
The four movements have a range of moods but maintain a general
coherence, and an expressive musical language without being
overly indulgent. The work has a good overall structure and
makes use of a variety of timbral colours to give the piece
a sense of drama and direction.
final work on the disc is Opus IV, a piece for cello
solo. Comprising three short movements, this ten minute work
is full of variety, making use of the full range of the instrument
and the characteristics of different registers. This is an expressive
work, with Eve Castor once again maintaining a fine balance
between a contemporary harmonic language and emotional appeal.
know very little about Eve Castor. The liner notes say only
that she began to learn music from her mother and later studied
composition with Louis Noel Belaubre and Pierre Doury, and a
largely fruitless web search did little to enlighten me further.
Her music speaks for itself, though. She has an individual style
which fuses modernism with melody. Her music is expressive and
lyrical without compromising its harmonic language. The performances
on this disc are all excellent, with Opus XI providing
a particularly high-quality opening to the disc. Elvio Cipollone’s
clarinet playing is beautifully expressive and makes an extremely
well written work come to life, while Nathalie Villette’s performance
of Opus VI is highly skilled and wonderfully phrased.
This is a world premiere recording of which all the contributors,
not least the composer, deserve to be proud.