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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ana Sokolovic, Sirenes

I never shy away from women composers, especially when they are from the Modern times we live in. So today there is Ana Sokolovic and her album Sirenes (ATMA Classique ACD2 2762). It consists of four works for the Ensemble contemporain de Montreal (ECM+) directed by Veronique Lacroix,  the Ensemble vocal Queen of Puddings Music Theatre under Dairine Ni Mheadhra, and soloists.

Ms. Sokolovic was born in 1968. which makes her younger than I am. I only mention it because it helps situate her in time. This is her second album of works according to the liners. Jeu des Portraits came in 2006 though I have not had the pleasure of hearing it. This new album addresses her chamber ensemble moods, including three devoted to the vocal arts and her recent Violin Concerto "Evta."

Andrea Tyrilec takes on the solo violin part on the concerto and does it full justice. It is a long and involved work of concentrated Contemporary heft, a kind of breakthrough tour de force, searing and abstractly tender in turn, filled with a wealth of detail and articulation in the harmonically advanced and colorful HighMod zone. There is a nice use of chromatic and timbral repetitions and sequencing  to express something about life and it works in its evolved context quite well. I am at times reminded of Mayazumi in this wise yet this is Sokolovic and the two are not synonymous, which is heartening.

The program begins with the title work "Sirenes" for the six woman vocalists from the Ensemble vocal Queen of Puddings Music Theatre. It is atmospheric, sound colorful Modern fare with a real feel for making full use of the vocal potential of this fine ensemble, whispering, full voice, etc.

Sokolov's "Tanzer Lieder" for soprano and small chamber group shows us Ms. Sokolov's gift for lieder writing. It is Modern in syntax and based nicely on Austrian poet Francisco Tanzer's Blatter collection. The music is expressive and well paced.

From there we move on to "Pesma" for mezzo-soprano and small chamber group. As with the Tanzer work there is carefully and very brightly situated elements working together in subtle ways to give us a refined zen of Modernism in the very sensitive laying out of it all. It is music I found myself appreciating the more effort I took to listen carefully. Perhaps that is the one lesson I never fail to note on these pages? One is not born to this music, so to speak. One must grow into it and much of the worthy music of our contemporary world.

After all is said and done we are left with the sheer musicality of Ana Sokolovic. It is lovely fare, convincingly performed. There is brilliance. We have contact, liftoff! Very happily recommended.

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