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Great ‘Tempo’ review for Simaku’s ‘con-ri-sonanza’ CD

Thomas Simaku’s CD album on BIS Records, con-ri-sonanza, has received another great review, in July 2021’s Tempo magazine.  The review begins with a challenging remark from Simaku himself:

‘‘Life isn’t easy,’ said British-Albanian composer Thomas Simaku, ‘why should my music be?’  In con-ri-sonanza, an album for piano and string quartet, individually and together Joseph Houston and Quatuor Diotima bridge this implied difficulty admirably, producing genuine and vivid recordings.’

The reviewer comments on Simaku’s use of development of notes and rhythms in Catena I, whilst keeping harmony constant, and how this ‘allows the pianist’s technical skill to shine through’.  She says ‘The unfolding and linking of the compositional process – trying variations, algorithmically expanding musical material – is laid bare in Catena I, which serves as a microcosm for the entire album.’  The music is challenging to play and listening requires ‘repeated and close analysis’.  The reviewer continues, with strong admiration for Simaku’s music and for its interpretation by Quatuor Diotima:

‘Although Simaku’s scores are laboriously revealing of his vernacular, the resulting music is very human and intuitive. All of the pieces feel through-composed, and Quatuor Diotima especially take care in letting the sound linger for just the right amount of time so that the next section rises out of the harmonic resonance, constructing a continuous experience.

‘The centrepiece of the album, con-ri-sonanza, is an evident meeting of Simaku’s piano and string quartet music. Because Simaku straightforwardly writes piano-like figures for strings, the instruments sonically combine by their serial origins. The intended effect is music arising from one organism and not five instruments. The coordination between Houston and Quatuor Diatoma is splendidly showcased, as is the musicians’ skilled mastery of their instruments. Those who love Kurtág and Ligeti will enjoy con-ri-sonanza, a solid album for a mature composer.’

The complete review may be read at this link.