1. In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves
2. From The Invisible To The Visible
3. Tooth And Nail
4. Étude 3
5. Tristan Da Cunha
6. Sleep Variations
There is no Bach on Baroque; no Handel, Telemann or Vivaldi. This is the music of the 21st Century, not the 17th, and the composers are violist Nadia Sirota’s friends—who just happen to include some of the most respected musicians of our own moment.
The six pieces on Baroque were written with Sirota’s distinctive sound in mind and recorded (by her longtime collaborators at Bedroom Community) to exaggerate the idiosyncracies of her tone. Fellow labelmates Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason and Paul Corley provide three pieces, while composers Judd Greenstein, Shara Worden and Missy Mazzoli provide the other three.
Baroque , as the title of the album, references a number of things; the concerto form - balancing a soloist against ensemble accompaniment - is an invention of the Baroque era, so while there are concerti here, of a sort, they’re concerti of a decidedly more portable variety. Both Judd Greenstein’s “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves”, whose intimate ensemble accompaniment opens the album with a different paradigm of “solo” versus “tutti” than more famous efforts in the form, and the self-aware symphonics of Daníel Bjarnason’s
“Sleep Variations”, which closes the disc, build Sirota’s virtual backup band from the overdubbed sound of her own playing. There’s also something very Baroque about the style of pieces like “From the Invisible to the Visible”, by Shara Worden (Clogs, My Brightest Diamond), and “Tooth and Nail” by Missy Mazzoli, two radically different pieces that are both about the elaborate ornamentation of slowly moving harmonies.
Sirota’s approach to the instrument owes something to recent trends in Baroque playing. She can keep her bow-hand light and her left hand still, for a gin-dry sound. It’s a sound prized by, among others, Nico Muhly who thinks of Sirota as his most trusted interpreter—another reason being the sort of rhythmic precision his “Étude 3” demands, with an almost wicked glee. Paul Corley creates a piece to which timbre is so central that the voice of Sirota’s instrument seems as much a part of the composition as the notes she plays. His “Tristan da Cunha”—dark, extreme, and alarmingly detailed—is “Baroque” in the sense of “Brueghel-esque.”
Which leads us to the one thing all of these pieces have in common: that level of detail. Words like “complex,” applied to music, too often suggest a level of intricacy designed to confound, whereas each of the works Sirota brings together here offers an audible clarity of purpose. So let’s instead say that these works—to whatever extent they may recall the Baroque—are instead exquisitely baroque, each concerto, miniature or soundscape realized with extravagant intricacy.
What the press says
A stellar young violist who has served as muse to prominent composers.
...a mind-blowing collection that electrically fuses classical technique and structures with electronic textures, overdubbing, and full-bodied melodies.
Sirota’s profile is sure to be raised by this exceptional release
Solid pieces from Paul Corley and Daniel Bjarnason complete this satisfying program, which, while more tricked-out electronically than Sirota’s first offering, retains her aesthetic imprint.
Luminous, restless and contemplative by turns, the disc proves that the viola is anything but a joke.
If Sirota has yet to achieve her ten thousand hours of practice toward mastery, she is a few thirty-minute sessions away.
Muhly sets Sirota’s sharp, startling attacks against a serenely murmuring church organ, evoking a sensation of clamminess in the midst of serenity.
A new recruit to Bedroom Community’s close-knit neo-classical roster that says more with her viola than we’re able to express with actual words.
The most beautiful album you will hear this year.
This is one of those rare albums that can serve as both a “gateway album” into contemporary classical and a deep listening experience for those already into the music.
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On the web
- Find out more on Nadia Sirota’s website
- Check out Nadia Sirota’s page on Facebook
- Follow Nadia Sirota on Twitter