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Ana Sokolović: Sirènes

The WholeNote
26 avril 2019

2019 JUNO Classical Composer of the Year Ana Sokolović composes with her highly identifiable tonal/atonal soundscapes in four works here. Sirènes/Sirens (2000) is performed perfectly by six female voices of Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Vocal Ensemble. Inspired by ancient Balkan voices of the Sirens legend, high-pitched female voices, quasi-wobbly, humorous yet haunting vocal effects, shrieks, quieter moments, and driving vocal rhythms are intense. The five-movement Tanzer Lieder (2005) is set to five German, French and English poems by Austrian poet Francisco Tanzer. A slightly more operatic work, soprano Florie Valiquette embraces Sokolović’s trademark loud high pitches and dramatic held notes above such instrumental accompaniment as reflective flute/piccolo, piano and cello plucks. Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó shines especially in her colourful lower pitches in the five-movement/language Pesma (1996-2007) above the ECM+ instrumentalists under the direction of Véronique Lacroix.

The title of the violin concerto Evta (2017) means “seven” in Serbian Roma. Seven joined movements are inspired by chakra colours and associated with each note of the scale as Sokolović now explores her characteristic sounds with only instruments. The ECM+ ensemble, with soloist Andréa Tyniec, performs with technical and musical greatness, executing more rapid ascending lines, held notes, pizzicatos and plucks, touches of Gypsy-flavoured sounds and the occasional more tonal sections in this less intense composition.

One can only imagine how gratifying it must be to successfully perform and compose such complex contemporary works. Yes it is intense, but worth the time to listen to and understand Sokolović!

Tiina Kiik – The WholeNote
 

La Presse +
1 avril 2019

QUATRE MONDES D’ANA SOKOLOVIĆ
4 étoiles

Consacré à la compositrice montréalaise Ana Sokolović, cet opus regroupe quatre œuvres matures, personnelles, de haute volée. Voilà un superbe flot de créativité illustrant l’inclination de la compositrice pour la voix humaine dans différentes configurations. Pour coiffer le tout, son concerto pour violon suggère une écriture très personnelle, à l’instar des œuvres précédentes, certes tributaires d’une esthétique contemporaine occidentale lancée au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, néanmoins étoffées d’éléments dramatiques, paroxystiques, ludiques ou même humoristiques. Sokolović sait exploiter toutes les possibilités instrumentales et vocales de ses interprètes, tant du côté des techniques classiques que de celui des recherches texturales, explorant de riches vocabulaires atonaux et tonaux, un vaste choix de patrons rythmiques. En somme, elle sait brillamment fondre les références compositionnelles de son époque et en extirper une sensibilité qui lui est propre. Ce qui lui a valu tout récemment un Juno de la composition classique de l’année pour l’œuvre Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes.

— Alain Brunet, La Presse
 

Operaramblings
26 mars 2019

Sirènes is an album of pieces by Montreal composer Ana Sokolović. The first pice, which gives the album its title, is written for six unaccompanied female voices. It’s performed here by the vocal ensemble of Queen of Puddings Music Theatre conducted by Dáirine Ní Mheadhra. The six ladies in question are Danika Lorèn, Shannon Mercer, Magali Simard-Galdès, Caitlin Wood, Andrea Ludwig, and Krisztina Szabó. It’s an interesting piece and very Sokolović. The text is bent and twisted into sound fragments which are “sung” using an array of extended vocal techniques. The overall effect is of a shimmering, fluttery and quite absorbing sound world.

The second piece; Tanzer Lieder, sets French, German and English texts by Francisco Tanzer. It’s scored for soprano (here Florie Valiquette) and piano trio. It’s another example of Sokolović’s unusual treatment of text and her interest in “sound as such”. The overall effect is quite ethereal. There’s no sense of narrative or story telling.

Pesma takes the idea of words as sound a step further. The original text was written by the composer in Serbian and forms the first movement. The subsequent four movements are the same text but translated into Arabic, French, Kifoulirou, and Indonesian. It’s scored for mezzo soprano (here Krisztina Szabó), flute/piccolo, two clarinets, piano, violin, viola, and cello.

The final piece on the disk is Evta; scored for solo violin, flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, percussion, piano/cymbal, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass. Evta means “seven” in the Serbian Roma language and each of the seven movements is inspired by the colours of the chakras and is associated with one of the notes of the scale: C / red, D / orange, E / yellow, F / green, G / blue, A / indigo and B / violet. One can clearly hear that it’s inspired by gypsy violin music. The solo violin part is taken here by Andréa Tyniec. As with Tanzer Lieder and Pesma, the other instrumentalists are drawn from the l’Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+) conducted by Véronique Lacroix.

I find it impossible to say anything useful about the performances, per se, on a disk like this. There are no comparators and the works all new to me. Mostly I’m just a bit amazed that anybody can play/sing it at all!

The recordings were made at various locations in Toronto and Montreal in 2018. It’s all very well engineered and just fine from a technical point of view. The booklet has all the texts and really good notes about each piece.

In summary, if you have been intrigued by Sokolović’s music in the past or are just curious about it, this is a pretty good disk to explore.

John Gilks - operaramblings
 

Medium large
22 mars 2019

L'altiste et chroniqueur Frédéric Lambert nous parle des meilleures parutions récentes en musique classique et des concerts à venir dans ce domaine. Il est question de Sirènes, de la compositrice de musique contemporaine montréalaise d'origine serbe Ana Sokolovic, qui vient de remporter un prix Juno pour l'une de ses compositions. Notre chroniqueur explique à Catherine Perrin que la voix humaine est à l'honneur dans cette œuvre, mais il salue également la qualité de la composition et des arrangements.

Pour écouter la chronique: ICI