"From the opening notes of the first string quartet by Louis Pelosi on the first CD of those under review, I was gripped by the heartfelt emotional intensity of the music that came to my ears. This impact is in large measure due to the fact that all the works on these CDs are inspired by and dedicated to his late wife, Rosemarie. Here is a composer who at one time would have been in a tiny minority among his fellow composers, namely one who had considerable talent, but remained immune from the latest fashions of academia. His is clearly music of its time, but not molded according to any current or past trends. The flowing lines of the quartet are underscored by gently dissonant sonorities, whose tension never lets up despite itsRead more greater or lesser prominence over the course of the work. The first quartet was written between the years 1997 and 2000. Its second movement is entitled “I Weave You a Shroud,” and is embedded with almost gut-wrenching pathos. The entire quartet is spun out from a germ that consists of a rising fourth followed by a major third. The composer considers this his first mature work. This reviewer certainly views it as such, quite worthy to be placed in any quartet recital. Only in the final movement does the rhythmic activity pick up to any degree, and the figuration that is handed around to each of the instruments sustains interest very well.
Prayer Suite for violin and piano was originally written as a memorial to the parents of the composer’s wife, but upon her death, he rededicated it to her memory. This one-movement suite of several sections seems to well portray in its rapidly changing moods the various components of prayer (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication). This is music that is profound while maintaining accessibility to players and hearers alike. Although not overtly Jewish in sound, the piece does summon occasional reminders of the music of Ernest Bloch.
I Weave You A Shroud is for a cappella vocal sextet, although it was originally written for a seven-part full chorus with soloists. The title was created by the composer’s wife, Rosemarie, who used it for the thousands of drawings she created to memorialize specific victims of the Holocaust. The music is drawn almost entirely from the composer’s First String Quartet, but between the arrangement and the much different timbre of the singers, it didn’t sound at all familiar to my ears, which just minutes before had auditioned the quartet. The composer considers the live performance to be flawless, but the lack of blend among the singers, caused by the very close miking and the absence of any hall ambience, does not present the piece in the best possible light (it was recorded in his home). I still like it, but would have liked it more in a more acoustically friendly venue: Its sonics do not stand up to the professionally recorded other works on these CDs.
The CD is closed out with Pelosi’s Second String Quartet, which bears the subtitle of “Rosemarie Koczÿ In Memoriam,” and was written as a Requiem for the composer’s beloved wife. It is additionally an act of homage to Bach, containing the opening theme of his D-Minor Concerto, BWV 1052, albeit transposed down a half step in an attempt to re-create the actual key of what would have been considered D Minor in Bach’s day. The last note of the quartet is its fulcrum throughout, and is intended as an expression of the composer’s undying love for his departed wife. It is a very touching effect—and piece, even though I don’t believe that it quite reaches the exalted heights of the first quartet.
In short, Louis Pelosi is a remarkable composer, and if his music doesn’t touch you, I’d be very surprised."