AMN Reviews: Silvia Tarozzi – Virgin Violin [i dischi di angelica IDA 028]

cd-silvia-tarozzi-virgin-violin-mediumAs an accomplished improviser accustomed to shaping performances in real time, Italian violinist Silvia Tarozzi often works with composers to develop pieces reflecting her interest in exploring sounds and the physical aspects of her instrument. All three performances on this new release are the result to varying extents of Tarozzi’s collaboration with their composers, and all bear the marks of the violinist’s own approach to the creation and elaboration of sounds.

The first track is Circle Process (2010), a 27-minute investigation into microtonal relationships and pure sound by French composer Pascale Criton, who worked with Tarozzi to craft a piece that would draw on the violinist’s experience as an improviser. Accordingly, the work calls for a series of extended techniques centered around gestures performed over various parts of the violin, whose strings are tuned 1/16th of a tone apart. This scordatura comes to the foreground in several passages in which two or more strings are sounded at once, setting up beats and mutual sonic interference patterns that give the sound a palpitating, fluttering quality. The title of the work seems to refer to the circular bowing—sometimes rapid, sometimes slow and often on muted strings—that recurs throughout.

On Thirteen Changes: for Malcom Goldstein, a 1986 composition in thirteen parts by Pauline Oliveros, Tarozzi supplements the austere solo violin with voice, objects, stones, radio, and recordings as well as Massimo Simonini’s electronics. The score consists of thirteen verbal phrases describing scenes, impressions or situations that are meant to serve as starting points for the performers’ improvisations. Tarozzi responds with economical and atmospheric collages in which identifiable sound sources combine with pure timbre. On the thirteenth piece Oliveros’ voice, reading the thirteen phrases, emerges from the sound of the violin being tapped, scraped and prodded over a field recording of rain.

The final track is a performance of French composer Eliane Radigue’s Occam II (2012), one of a series of solo instrumental pieces inspired by 14th century English philosopher William of Ockham’s dictum that that explanation is best that requires the fewest possible causes or assumptions. As Occam’s Razor reduces explanation to its simplest elements, Radigue’s Occam reduces music to its simplest constituent: A single tone. Using long bowstrokes—and what may be two bows at once–Tarozzi draws out the latent harmonic complexity of the fundamental tone by revealing its upper structure of overtones. The piece ends with the solidity of the drone dissolving into ghostly harmonics.

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