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Zanon: Chamber Music / Quatuor Terpsycordes

Release Date: 01/22/2008 
Label:  Claves   Catalog #: 2606   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gregorio Zanon
Performer:  Mark DrobinskyCaroline HaasFrançois GrinGirolamo Bottiglieri,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Terpsycordes String QuartetQuatuor Terpsycordes
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ZANON String Quartets: No. 1; No. 2, “Légende à quatre.” Romanéche Rhapsody. 1 Concerto grosso 2 Qrt Terpsycordes; Mark Drobinsky (vc); 1 Jocelyne Rudasigwa (db); 1, 2 Xavier Dami (pn) 2 CLAVES 50 2606 (70: 57)

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Gregorio Zanon decided to become a composer at the age of 15, after two years of piano lessons. That was in 1995. This CD contains four chamber works completed (and in one case revised) by the young Swiss composer between 2003 and 2005. During that time he completed his studies in London with Dominick Muldowney, among others, and thanks to the support of the musicians above, began to receive both performances and commissions. Clearly, the Quatuor Terpsycordes knew a good thing when they heard it—both of Zanon’s quartets are dedicated to them—as did the composer’s piano teacher, Xavier Dami, who is the pianist in the Concerto grosso.

Zanon throws himself into composition with all the zeal you might expect. This music reminds me of the youthful works of Britten and Tippett, overflowing as it is with ideas and abundant creative energy. In fact, Zanon’s string quartets at times resemble Tippett’s in their decorative elaborations and rich harmonies. Zanon’s harmony is tonal but chromatic, always on the move, and tempered by such loosely avant-garde additions as glissandos in harmonics. While stretching his creative muscles, Zanon also takes care to showcase his soloists, giving both the pianist Dami and cellist Drobinsky room to shine in their mini concertos.

Formally, the music at first seems rhapsodic, even a little shapeless, but Zanon has a way of dealing with his thematic material that might best be described as kaleidoscopic. This musical fingerprint occurs most frequently in the Concerto grosso for piano and string quintet. Themes and statements, such as the chorale that dominates the first movement, seem to shatter and re-form, like the shifting patterns of colored glass in a kaleidoscope. Using explosive streams of notes in the piano’s treble register, this random musical reconfiguration is presented almost literally.

In this recording, the Concerto grosso uses an alternative chamber scoring; the 23-minute work was written originally for string orchestra, piano, harp, and kettledrums. (Arranging a chamber reduction that is therefore more likely to receive performances shows a pragmatism also seen in the young Britten.) At no point do you feel anything is missing, which is a tribute to these performers as well as to the composer’s undoubted skill; even so, I would like to hear what a harp would bring to the texture. Similarly, the Romanéche Rhapsody was conceived for cello and string orchestra, and has been performed in that version. It would be fascinating to compare the larger scale arrangements of these works: would they retain their effervescence? Would a formal structure be more evident with larger forces overseen by a conductor? I hope some day we’ll find out!

Claves, meanwhile, has made a considerable investment, but it pays off. Performances are skillful and heartfelt—you can sense that these musicians believe in this work—and the sound quality is excellent. I have no doubt we’ll be hearing from Zanon anon, but whatever the future brings, there is more on display here than mere potential.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Romanèche Rhapsody for Cello and String Quintet by Gregorio Zanon
Performer:  Mark Drobinsky (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Terpsycordes String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006 
Quartet for Strings no 1 by Gregorio Zanon
Performer:  Caroline Haas (Viola), François Grin (Cello), Girolamo Bottiglieri (Violin),
Raya Raytcheva (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Terpsycordes String Quartet,  Quatuor Terpsycordes
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001-2006; Switzerland 
Length: 22 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Switzerland (2001 - 2006). 
Quartet for Strings no 2 "Légend à Quatre" by Gregorio Zanon
Performer:  François Grin (Cello), Raya Raytcheva (Violin), Girolamo Bottiglieri (Violin),
Caroline Haas (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Terpsycordes
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 05/2006 
Venue:  Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland 
Length: 11 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Concerto Grosso for String Quintet and Piano by Gregorio Zanon
Performer:  Girolamo Bottiglieri (Violin), Raya Raytcheva (Violin), François Grin (Cello),
Xavier Dami (Piano), Caroline Haas (Viola), Mark Drobinsky (Piano),
Jocelyne Rudasigwa (Double Bass)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Terpsycordes
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 05/2006 
Venue:  Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland 
Length: 22 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Rhapsody for Cello and String Quintet "Romanèche" by Gregorio Zanon
Performer:  Caroline Haas (Viola), Jocelyne Rudasigwa (Double Bass), Raya Raytcheva (Violin),
Mark Drobinsky (Cello), François Grin (Cello), Girolamo Bottiglieri (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Terpsycordes
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 05/2006 
Venue:  Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland 
Length: 14 Minutes 12 Secs. 

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