Simaku ‘Solos and Duos’ Naxos CD earns fabulous review from MusicWeb-International

Thomas Simaku has received a wonderful review from MusicWeb-International of his new Naxos CD Solos and Duos for violin and piano (Naxos 8.57903).  The detailed and interesting review traces some of the history of Simaku’s writing and his style, or ‘styles’ of composition, the many techniques he employs, whilst ‘ever-mindful of the folk music legacy from his homeland’.   Philip R Buttall writes of the CD ‘..... it would be fair to say that all the pieces, recorded here for the first time, exemplify the heterogeneous stylistic elements cited by Simaku to varying degrees, depending on the resources used.’ 

Buttall describes Simaku’s great attention to detail, he praises his music as ‘exceedingly well-crafted within the genre’ and points out that his rapid and intricate arpeggios ‘clearly attest to a meticulous ear and a painstaking worker who addresses the smallest detail, particularly in terms of articulation and dynamics. As a result, every note has its allotted place even at moments of dissonance or extreme rapidity.’

Both Simaku’s compositional skill and the performances on the CD are rated exceedingly highly and Buttall concludes: ‘From the evidence of this much-awaited new CD of Simaku’s works, as a composer he is rich in ideas and novel invention, all of which he has the necessary expertise to translate into appropriate sounds and textures. Just as fellow-reviewer Hubert Culot noted in a previous review of Simaku’s music in 2008, the music is often multifaceted and challenging but ultimately fulfilling, to which I would simply add, especially with repeated listening. Likewise the sleeve-notes are a font of information, though hardly bedside reading. ....... The performances are first-class and totally idiomatic. Everything is recorded with exceptional clarity, which is crucial where extremes of dynamics are encountered, together with quite extended periods of silence along the way.’

Works on the CD are: Signals for solo piano (2015), Capriccioso for solo violin (2014), which focusses on a single note, or ‘ison’, as in Byzantine chant and some other traditions (a drone or slow-moving vocal part which accompanies the melody); Moj e Bukura Moré, Albanian Folk Song, version for violin and piano (2015), which originates from Calabria in Italy, where there has long been an Albanian community; Soliloquy V – Flauto Acerbo for solo alto (treble) doubling tenor recorder (2008), which won the BASCA Award 2009 for the solo/duo instrumental category;
ENgREnage for violin and piano (2014-15), a shortened version of the title Engrenage en Ré, which centres around ‘D’ (en Ré) ; Deux Esquisses for solo piano (2013), dedicated to Terry Holmes on the occasion of an important birthday; Sound Tree – Richard Robbins in Memoriam for violin and piano (2013) and The Flight of the Eagle for solo piano (2000), which is inspired by an ancient Albanian proverb, ‘the Eagle Flies in the Sky, but makes its nest on Earth’.. 

The CD comprises world premiere recordings, and the performers are: Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin), Chris Orton (recorders), Joseph Houston and Roderick Chadwick (piano).  The full review may be read on MusicWeb-International.  The CD may be purchased from Amazon, ArkivMusic and Presto Classical.

(9 Oct 2019)

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