5-star Review in France for Thomas Simaku’s New Album

Released by the British label NMC Recordings on 29 September 2023, Thomas Simaku’s new album, SOLO, featuring soloists of Ensemble Intercontemporain has captured the attention of music critics and radio stations internationally. Works from the album have already been broadcast on Radio-France, BBC Radio 3, RTP in Portugal and Ecclectus Radio in Seattle, USA; and rave reviews have appeared in prestigious magazines such as BBC Music, Music Opinion, and Crescendo Magazine in Brussels.

Most recently, Parisian Diapason – the ‘No1 magazine of classical music in French’ has published a ‘5-diapason’ review in their January 2024 issue.

Critic Pierre Rigaudière begins his review with the piano pieces Catena II & III, which ‘illustrate Ligeti’s influence most clearly, particularly in the polyphonic interlacings pursuing an inexorable progression. But Thomas Simaku dwells much more on resonance and willingly plunges the performer's hands into the strings. Dimitri Vassilakis is no stranger to these flowing sprays of notes, the harmonics exhaled by an attack on a blocked string, and the sweeps that suggest a harp in the distance, all of which he plays to his heart's content, without sacrificing the precision of his touch. Although not descriptive, Catena III-Corona (2022) transposes the idea of infection, with a touch of humour, by a rhythmic motif and its variants. Judging by the shimmering chains of chords to which the pianist imparts a serene power, the infected organism remains in good health.’

Commenting on the Soliloquy pieces, the reviewer writes: ‘The clarinet in Soliloquy VII (2019), played by Jérôme Comte, nicely diversifies the hues, at times approaching Stravinsky's Three Pieces, but adding a few multiphonics and bends in intonation to their virtuosity. In Soliloquy IX (2022), trumpeter Clément Saunier's mastery of the mute highlights not only the contrasts in density, but also the effects of distance, in dark melodies reminiscent of Miles Davis. Augmented by the resonance of tubular bells, gong and vibraphone, the 'marimba +' of Soliloquy VIII (2020 - 21) offers a wooden liquidity under the batons of Aurélien Gignoux.’ Concluding his review, French critic Rigaudière states: ‘Here, as in all the Albanian composer's music, the discourse is unassumingly sophisticated and clear.’