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'Das Klassik & Jazz' review for Thomas Simaku’s new album

The first review has been published of Thomas Simaku’s new album con-ri-sonanza, released last month on the prestigious Swedish label BIS Records. The review appears in the Rondo – Das Klassik & Jazz magazine; critic Guido Fischer is hugely impressed by the music and has given it five stars. The German critic begins by stating that Thomas Simaku is one of the contemporary composers who is unjustly neglected and he goes on to say:

‘In fact, the structural complexity of Simaku’s musical language belies its wide expressive palette, which ranges from radical acerbity to mysterious intimacy – it really compels you to listen. Simaku was taught by Brian Ferneyhough, the high priest of the post-avant-garde; another of his idols is the dedicatee of a solo piano piece from 2011, which pianist Joseph Houston contributes to this portrait disc. This work, Hommage à Kurtág, develops from radically pared-down sonorities, often broken down by deafening silences, into music of explosive force and impact. The use of such minimal means to achieve these ultra-exciting effects brings Schoenberg’s pupil Anton Webern in mind, as well as his Hungarian admirer György Kurtág. And it is precisely Kurtág’s art, in which a whole world often arises from a single gesture, that served as a (presumably subconscious) model for Simaku as he composed some of the chamber and piano music recorded here.

‘The six compositions, which stem from between 2010 and 2019, have found perfect interpreters in Joseph Houston and the Diotima Quartet. The 4th and 5th String Quartets are also both characterised by oppressive slowness and shocking upheavals. In spite of its Debussian aura, Lʼimage oubliée dʼaprès Debussy has a magical individuality. And the Piano Quintet con-ri-sonanza (2018) is the epitome of tempestuous rest (lessness) – likewise a piece to throw yourself into wholeheartedly.’

The whole review, in German: .