Ana Sokolović: Short Stories

Bozzini Quartet

Track Listing

About

In most of Ana Sokolović’s work, an extra-musical element serves as a source of inspiration. This particular compositional process is intimately linked to the importance of “pluralities” for Sokolović; a diversity of approaches, putting different art forms in dialogue. Short Stories by Sokolović’s long-term collaborator, Quatuor Bozzini, enables us to listen to the encounter taking place between the composer’s artistic sensitivity and four of her sources of inspiration. In the realm of visual arts we discover the composer’s interest in sculpture; her miniatures, Ghost 1 and Ghost 2, were inspired by Verina Baxter and Klaus Duschat’s Enzo’s Tumpkin and Scetch II. Triggered by a contemplation of Guido Molinari’s pictorial universe, the theme and variations Blanc dominant offers a musical connection to the artist’s paintings; a sounding tribute, the “recording of an enchantment.” With Troisième page après le soleil, Sokolović enters the universe of a short film by Theodore Ushev. The music for this frenetic tableau takes on quasi-narrative qualities. The final piece is a three-part fresco work, Sokolović’s Commedia dell’arte, which includes a commission by the Quatuor Bozzini. The characters that share the stage of the Commedia and their archetypal personalities have fascinated Sokolović since childhood, and the theatricality of the genre still vividly resonates with the composer’s entire musical production: a direct and intelligible discourse, music that is at once rich, complex, bringing forth archetypes that can be understood and transposed to any age and any nation. — Emanuelle Majeau-Bettez

Format
CD
Label
Collection QB
Catalogue no
CQB 1925

In the Press

Review

By Ken Waxman in Jazz Word (Canada), June 6, 2020
… every variety of conventional and extended technique is put to exceptional use.

Means to personify some of the archetypal Commedia dell’arte characters, QB’s interpretation of the suite ranges from the full-fledged corybantic string rubbing on Capitano, the first “story”, to the harmonized and lyrical outpouring which defines Colombina, the subsequent track. From that point on every variety of conventional and extended technique is put to exceptional use. High-pitched jitters squeeze out skittish variations at points, while compelling surges from the lower-pitched strings sometimes reference a sense of high-powered modern swing. Through QB members perform the equivalent of tightrope walking, swaying and stretching timbres, but with enough safety net-like fusion so that there’s no chance of them failing. When personifying Isabella for instance, sawing reflections of one low tone face a pointed counter melody that eventually combines to express multiple tinctures on the color scale. Meantime the lively Zanni is probably the most Balkan of the tracks with its reed-like suggestions. The piece combines rhythmic cello plucks and dynamic violin squeaks to create a slipping and sliding terpsichorean feel. Overall, while cellist Bozzini sometimes fulfills the double bass function with string slaps, angled off-centre and off-key variables from all QB members mean that bouncing col legno emphasis frequently cements the performances. While spiccato string acceleration may dominate the final Ruzzante the dissonant pitches fade into tremolo overlapping signaling the end of the piece and the suite finale. Bagatelles which depend mostly on speed and col legno thumps, only an earlier composition, the multi-part Blanc dominant seems sufficiently fleshed out. Expressive with thinner squeals, the chamber music continuum is challenged throughout with a sneaky sectional counter motif.

Focus Québec — Planètes connues

By Pierre Durr in Revue & Corrigée #124 (France), June 1, 2020

La compositrice Ana Sokolović, native d’une Serbie qu’elle a quittée au début de la guerre civile yougoslave et désormais canadienne, a déjà croisé le Quatuor Bozzini pour l’enregistrement de sa pièce «In Between», dans un album collectif consacré au gamelan, Higgs Ocean. Et l’une de ses œuvres fut aussi jouée par la pianiste Brigitte Poulin, déjà pour le compte de la Collection QB (0805). Le Quatuor, qui offre régulièrement des monographies consacrées aux compositrices et compositeurs canadien.ne.s (Simon Martin, Christopher Butterfield, Michel Gonneville) a donc jeté son dévolu sur elle et quatre de ses pièces, chacune inspirée par les arts visuels, théâtraux ou cinématographiques. «Ghost 1» et «Ghost 2» s’appuient sur des sculptures exposées lors de la biennale 2015-2017 à l’espace Forget par Verina Baxter et Klaus Duschat; «Blanc dominant» s’inspire d’une œuvre picturale de Guido Molinari; «Troisième Page après le soleil» évoque un court-métrage de Théodore Ushev (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iki9rjmCp3U). Et la pièce centrale, déclinée en dix parties, se rapporte à dix personnages de la Commedia dell’arte; des sources d’inspiration propres à diversifier le jeu des musiciens et les climats sonores proposés: l’allant du «Capitaine», la douceur circonspecte de «Colombine», l’assurance du «Docteur», les malices de «Brighella», l’enjouement des Amoureux trouvent vie, tandis que l’interprétation de «Troisième Page…» traduit davantage le caractère méditatif de la compositrice que les œuvres du peintre. Un univers plaisant pour l’auditeur…

Review

By Dolf Mulder in Vital #1227 (Netherlands), March 30, 2020
Sokolović proves to be a composer of very intense and dynamic music with influences of (Balkan) folk music and theatre. In the hands of Quatuor Bozzini her compositions come in a very inspired and concentrated performance.

Quatuor Bozzini is a very enterprising and focused quartet operating since 1999. Members are: Clemens Merkel (violin), Alissa Cheung (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola) and Isabelle Bozzini (cello). Most of their challenging projects concern modern experimental composers as you may know from earlier reviews. This time they concentrate on some compositions by Ana Sokolović. She is a composer from Belgrade, Serbia. She studied at the University of Novi Sad, Belgrade and Montréal where she is settled since two decades. She has composed for orchestra, solo piano, chamber music ensemble and theatre. The quartet choose following compositions to perform: Ghost 1 (2015), Commedia dell ‘arte I-II-III (2010-2013), Ghost 2 (2015), Blanc dominant (1988) and Troisième page après le soleil (2013). Commedia dell’ arte is the central work, on this release, a composition in 10 parts, inspired on this old Italian theatre tradition. Each one with its own characteristics. But all are very lively and dramatic with dominant elements that are playful and accessible. The composition is preceded and followed by two other ultra short compositions: Ghost I and Ghost II, the first one being very up tempo, while the second one in contrast is a very meditative and reflective piece. Blanc Dominant is inspired on another art form, contemplating the abstract paintings of Guido Molinari. Sokolović proves to be a composer of very intense and dynamic music with influences of (Balkan) folk music and theatre. In the hands of Quatuor Bozzini her compositions come in a very inspired and concentrated performance.

Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical: February 2020

By Peter Margasak in Bandcamp Daily (USA), March 3, 2020
[…] all performed with typical brio and sensitivity by the Bozzinis.

As the global reputation, reach, and repertoire of Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini has grown over the last two decades, one thing that hasn’t changed is the peerless string quartet’s dedication to performing the work of composers from its Canadian homeland. The Serbian-born Ana Sokolović has lived in Québec since 1992, and this collection underlines her unique sensibility, deriving ideas from her engagement with theater, ballet, and folk music.

The centerpiece of the album is her three-part Commedia dell’arte, with each three-movement work named for and inspired by different characters of the Italian theatrical tradition, privileging evocation provided by extended and percussive techniques over traditional structures. Capitano, the first movement from the first part, is wonderfully strident and a bit unreliable, reflecting the titular character’s boastful yet cowardly personality, while Zanni conveys a trickster persona in its jagged, shape-shifting design. Yet the entire work succeeds even without knowing such references. Even two miniatures — Ghost 1 and Ghost 2 — are marked by a quirky, sonically imaginative construction, arranging disparate notions in dynamic, visceral patterns, all performed by with typical brio and sensitivity by the Bozzinis.