Boomkat Product Review:
Sarah Davachi yields her first major new work of 2023; longform arrangements for chamber string quartet performed by Canada’s Quatuor Bozzini. Music that suspends time and prompts contemplation like little else.
After a multi-part retrospective, and lending her tongue-tip magic to a re-composition of Ernstalbrecht Stiebler’s ‘Für Biliana’ already in 2023, Davachi now presents a real beauty that was borne of an unusually long compositional process, and follows with a definitive representation of her ongoing preoccupation with chordal suspension and cadential structure. The work derives from a 2020 residency with Quatuor Bozzini that was thwarted by the pandemic, and left Davachi a much longer timeframe than normal to develop, mariade the piece, modelling finely incremental adjustments of horizontal pitch and harmonic texture that conjure great, yet intimate landscapes.
The results reflect the relative luxury of working with the quartet over such an expanded time frame, as Davachi explains: ”I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Quatuor Bozzini for the opportunity to go through this process together, which is exceedingly uncommon in the context of chamber music. Typically, when writing for an ensemble or orchestra, the composer is given very few, if any, occasions to actually adjust their work in a meaningful way outside of perhaps one or two brief rehearsals of an essentially final score. It is extremely rare and an enormous luxury to begin with simple sketches or ideas and to actually construct a piece over a period of several months or more from a place of sonic assurance – that is, being able to listen and to explore and to continually fine tune in response to the sound itself, in conjunction with the performers.”
On this release we hear the work interpreted for strings, while the 4CD also features its wind, brass, and choir & electronic iterations. In Quatuor Bozzini’s hands (Alissa Cheung, violin, Clemens Merkel, violin, Stéphanie Bozzini, viola, Isabelle Bozzini, cello) the material commands one’s breathing rate and blood pressure in real time as the strings remarkably sway into near stasis on Part I, and levitate on Part II, achieving hermetic;s deeply uncanny potential to slant and gyre, slipping minds into states of regression with the breath-catching beauty of Part III, and with moments where we genuinely think we hear electronics on the bewitching cadence to Part IV, but we’re assured it’s all acoustic.
Comparable to the discrete microtonal genius of her ancestor Éliane Radigue, or the patience of Phill Niblock works, and the spellbinding minimalism of La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela, Sarah Davachi proves her visionary, timelessly transformative music at its most seductive and emotionally resonant right here.