SILVIA COLASANTI – String Quartet Works

Italian Contemporary composer Silvia Colasanti, [born 1975] does not appear to have written any numbered string quartets but the review CD contains several fine works for the medium. I am going to discuss Tre notti, which translates to Three Nights. The work, in three movements, is characterised by the extensive use of strongly bowed, quivering chordal accompaniments. This technique probably has a name, but I wasn’t able to reverse engineer it.

The first movement, marked One Note begins with the mentioned technique, as a strongly bowed section, almost scraping, builds in volume, with a thin violin line occasionally appearing. This line eventually predominates, in a very shrill register. Now a return to the quivering bowing leads into a call and response passage for two violins moving between registers. This projects as an abstract feeling, dominated by the ensemble quivering. It goes without saying that the quivering is mostly constant throughout. The end is a handful of notes, in a sparse passage.

Second Note begins with a quiet flurry which builds into a sustained chord before two violins move over a sustained accompaniment. There are some quiet passages which border on the inaudible at times. Two violins commence an interweaving conversation leading into a solo violin interlude, before a second violin joins in, and points the music to a gentle call and response – this is a most beautiful section. The two violins waft over more quivering, leading to a faded finish.

Third Note has the violins interjecting sharp jabs against the pulsing background. A short sparse section moves into a period of glissandi, sometimes accompanied by a warm passage from the viola and cello. This is as peaceful as it gets and the two violins are very attractive. The cello and viola move into pizzicato and the violins continue with this time, gentle jabs. The conclusion comes as a surprise, it just stops.

There are also three named, one-movement works for string quartet on the CD. Listening to them made me realise how modern this composer is. Filled with jabs of rough timbre, sustained bowing and shrill violin melodies, this makes for a sometimes confronting experience.

The review CD, titled Silvia Colasanti: String Quartets, is performed by Quartetto Noûs, on the Brilliant Classics Label, and is relatively recent.

The disc is on Spotify and Three Nights can be heard on  earsense and  YouTube. It took a little searching to find all three movements on YouTube. There is a clip of the whole CD available.

Listenability: Pretty heavy going. The reviewed work is the most listenable piece.


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