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Gramophone reviews Thomas Simaku’s new 'Chamber Works' CD

Following the review in the German magazine Rondo – Das Klassik & Jazz , another excellent review of Thomas Simaku’s new CD ‘Chamber Works’, performed by Joseph Houston and Quatuor Diotima on BIS 2449, has been published in the February issue of Gramophone.

Critic Richard Whitehouse begins by stating the lamentable fact that the music of Thomas Simaku ‘is something of a well-kept secret, though two discs of his chamber and instrumental works on Naxos have helped spread awareness of an idiom modernist in approach if by no means hermetic in spirit.’ He goes on to say that the two most recent of Simaku’s string quartets are cases in point. Whitehouse notes that the finale of the Fourth Quartet ‘steers over its eventful course to an almost intangible resolution’. ‘The Fifth Quartet (2015) focuses on duality: two contrasted movements, the second in two parts (separately tracked) of which the latter effects a synthesis the more telling for its being the realisation of a ‘2+2=5’ conceit.’

The reviewer continues: ‘Simaku’s piano pieces are equally intriguing. L’image oubliée d’après Debussy takes its cue from the first of the composer’s posthumous set, drawing on its melodic and rhythmic content for a fantasia fluid in form and texture, while Hommage à Kurtág takes those ‘musical’ letters of the composer’s name as sonic pillars that support the ensuing incident before bringing its sudden cessation. Catena I (2019) favours rather a chain-like evolution, its central movements playing with abandon on those gestures the first had brought haltingly into focus and the fifth will disintegrate in heady fashion. Piano and quartet combine in the title-piece, con-ri-sonanza (2018) being a memorial to music publisher Bill Colleran – a chordal motto derived from his name sustained throughout the resultant activity in a subtle affirmation of ‘unity in diversity’.’

Richard Whitehouse concludes :‘The playing is as assured as expected from such artists as Quatuor Diotima and Joseph Houston, and those who doubted the continued viability of a modernist aesthetic may well be surprised.’

Read the complete review at Gramophone.