COVID in Music: Thomas Simaku 'Catena III – Corona'

An excellent article about Simaku’s Catena III - Corona “exploring the contrasts of the world” has been published in the classical music e-magazine Interlude in January 2024. Composed during the first lockdown, the piece was written for Ensemble Intercontemporain soloist Dimitri Vassilakis, and it is included in Simaku’s latest CD SOLO released by the British label NMC Recordings in September 2023.

Written by musicologist Maureen Buja, the article begins: “The piece opens with a crash that quickly fades away. This is Albanian-British composer Thomas Simaku’s piano work Catena III - Corona. A product of the first lockdown that started in March 2020, when about half the world’s population had to stay at home, Catena III - Corona begins by exploring the contrasts of the world we are confined to.”

“The core of the work comes from that opening crash and its syncopated rhythm that, at once, puts everything in motion. It’s vigorous but unsettled, reflecting our own exploration of the walls that contained us – would we have the wherewithal to wait? To take care of our health? To keep from becoming stir-crazy?

Catena III, however, redefines chains. Written between 2020 and 2022, the work is a personal reflection by Simaku on ‘the devastating effect’ of the pandemic. It’s not programmatic, but we are cheered by the last minutes of the piece, which starts with chops in the lower register but ascends, still contrapuntally, to an optimism that even the last note cannot dispel.”

The article and recording can be accessed in full here.