Chartres Cathedral south rose

Chartres Cathedral south rose.

Chartres review by Ben Davis on Sight Listen blog

Posted on September 24, 2014

Slowly unfolding and stunningly textured, Lithuanian-born, Paris-based composer Justina Repečkaitė’s for chamber orchestra is a thoroughly riveting listen. The bold opening sonority at the very beginning of this piece immediately drew me in and made me want to hear more. It is mysterious, cold, high pitched and somewhere in a wonderful place between consonance and dissonance. This harmonic ambiguity only progresses more as the voices of the orchestra slowly bend between different pitches that encompass many levels of serenity and crunchiness through the process. Eventually the range widens as deeper voices emerge into the texture.  With these new notes in the bass, perception of harmony becomes fundamentally altered just adding new hues to this increasingly complex mix of harmonic color. In many ways it reminds me of Gerhard Richter’s oil paintings and even the process by which he goes about making them (which you can see in Gerhard Richter – Painting, a fantastic and enlightening documentary on his process).

All the while, various elements simultaneously stimulate change in the field of sound that could otherwise exist somewhat statically because of its perpetual change. For example, at 4’05” two separately bowed, sharp notes provide an agitated quality to music that is fairly stable. These biting notes keep coming back in increasingly large numbers of repetitions. As this happens the dynamics build and the harmonies thicken from the increasing presence of low strings. But Repečkaitė plays with the expectation that the music will then get loud and furious and reduces it greatly before allowing the inevitable. From this quiet point, she imperceptibly builds a large tremolo from the whole string section underneath the cover of the larger, more aggressive separated notes. Finally, as the dynamics grow louder and the range spreads to a very full spectrum, the full tremolo swallow up everything else and the listener is thrown into a sea of sound. I really enjoy how she is able to unite these two opposing gestures of the glissandi and the sharp notes into one force because the tremolo essentially serve as continuous sound while still containing separation.

This was a great listen from start to finish (great ending as well, the pizzicato are a perfect contrast to the monolithic material that dominates most all the piece) and a fun way to return back to this blog after too long of a break. I will continue posting new finds on here, but as a forewarning, some posts may be very brief depending on how pressed I am for time with other work.

Reposted from Sight Listen blog by Ben Davis