Notes and Editorial Reviews
Aisha Orazbayeva (vn, voc); Matthew Shellhorn (pn); Peter Zinovieff (computer)
6 Solo Violin Caprices.
Violin Sonata: Allegretto.
Computer Concerto, “OUR”:
Pchela I Babachka.
Violinist Aisha Orazbayeva and pianist Peter Zinoveiff both recorded and produced their program, which consists of largely unfamiliar works. The first of these, six caprices for solo violin by Salvatore Sciarrino (from 1976), at 24-odd minutes, takes up almost half the recital. The First Caprice,
, surrounds the violin’s skittish timbres with varying degrees of reverberation and what sounds like ambient noise (perhaps traffic or similar whooshing as well as fragments of speech) that Orazbayeva has made an integral part of this performance (with sounds integrated from a bus stop, a park, a car park, a warehouse, a railway arch, a tailor’s yard, and a flat). The violin’s tessitura remains high through the first two caprices, and close up miking reveals a great deal of what acousticians might describe as noise from the violin itself. The chirping Third Caprice,
, threads melodic fragments, almost recognizable as such, through its stratospheric textures, while the Fourth,
, again tied to the Third on one track, employs a series of scrapes, whistles, and other noises, so harsh that it could hardly claim to be
The Whistler and His Dog
transported into the late 20th century. The computer’s contribution to the ambiance becomes more clearly audible again at the beginning of the Fifth Caprice,
, while the Sixth starts out pizzicato. Those who have labored over Paganini’s or Ernst’s pizzicatos, for both left and right hand, might wonder whether what sounds like awkward rhythmic uncertainty in Orazbayeva’s reading might be intentional—and why; no notes illuminate any of these pieces or their performances. Carolin Widmann included the caprices in her collection of works for solo violin for Telos 116 (
34: 1) in a more straightforward version (without all the superimposed noises and without Nonclassical’s engineering stunts, for better or for worse) that will seem to many listeners in the end a much less exuberant spirit.
Maurice Ravel’s Violin Sonata, recorded at a lower level and at what seems to have been a greater distance, notoriously pits the two instruments against each other so that they only occasionally seem to be in phase and more than occasionally out of phase; that may be why Orazbayeva and Shellhorn chose only its first movement for the program. Still, their performance hardly seems to exaggerate the independence of the voices, and while their reading sounds more mellifluous than—and equally as allusive as—Joseph Szigeti’s with Carlo Bussotti, neither Orazbayeva nor Shellhorn files down the work’s corners.
The Five Bagatelles from “OUR,” a concerto for violin and computer from 2010
(Scu, Perc, Extreme Glissando, Peg
), intriguingly (and genially) explore textural effects in a manner similar to tape-generated music I used to listen to in the 1960s (slides, pops, bubbles, and swoops, for example); the violin’s contribution to the whole hardly sounds soloistic in any traditional (or even non-traditional) sense.
Pchela i Babchka
presents a folk song, sung unaccompanied by Orazbayeva, while Helmut Lachenmann’s
begins with almost stray-seeming pizzicatos, and ends with another folk-like song, sung softly by the violinist and accompanied by rhythmic pizzicatos.
The performances, as well as the program, should appeal principally to the adventurous. Nonclassical, certainly, and perhaps entertaining, but then what might it be? “Outside” sums it up. Recommended to listeners ready to embark on a journey to lands unknown (for some, perhaps even after arrival) in a boat of not readily ascertainable seaworthiness—and posted with strong caveats to traditionalists.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Bagatelles (5) from OUR by Peter Zinovieff
Aisha Orazbayeva (Violin)
Notes: This work was written in collaboration with Aisha Orazbayeva.
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