CARLOTTA FERRARI (b.1975): Lady Frankenstein, Maria Restituta, Historia Gullielmae, Viva la vida, Ecstasy (La transverberazione di Teresa d’Avila).
Catalogue Number: 08U068
Label: Divine Art
Reference: dda 25178
Description: Approachable and distinctively original, Ferrari's organ music covers a wide range of emotional territory and subject matter, and is invariably a pleasure to encounter. An extension of tradition rather than a slave to it, her idiom is, or sounds, tonal, or more correctly modal, and in recent years (which encompass most of the music on this disc) she has employed the rich resources of Carson Cooman's technique of "Restarting Pitch Space". This piles up a prescribed modal pattern (of which there are already many: viz. Busoni's and Foulds' extensive catalogues thereof) across different octaves, thus producing a "super-mode" hugely abundant in coloristic and functional possibilities. Depending on the mode chosen or its employment across registers, it can sound like tonality, bitonality and polytonality, and striking discords and resolutions are freely available. These five works all celebrate women of great accomplishments in their respective fields. Lady Frankenstein is on one level an effective Gothic Drama, playing with our expectations of the clichés of adaptations of the Gothic Romance. The composer also points up the autobiographical parallels between the Frankenstein story and Mary Shelley's own tumultuous and tragedy-ridden life. The composer describes the language of the chosen mode as "sad, tense, dramatic", ideal for the work's narrative arc. The other large suite, the five-movement "Historia Gullielmae" tells the story of the mediæval heretic who attracted a devoted following with what amounted to proto-feminist teaching of theology, which eventually and inevitably brought her to the attention of the Inquisition. The movements are like panels in a fresco, illustrating episodes from Guglielma's life; the work is cyclic, bound together by recurring themes. The music is by turns devoutly meditative, evocative of organum, and jubilant, though the versatility of the composer's idiom is shown by the darkly dramatic turn the music takes in the movement 'The Disciples before the Inquisitor'. A rhapsodic prayer memorialises Maria Restituta, a martyr of the Catholic church who was murdered by the Nazis in 1943; Viva la Vida celebates a vividly colorful painting by Frida Kahlo, affirming life with the title inscribed on a vibrant image of watermelons eight days before she died. Ecstasy is a 15-minute dramatic tone poem on the turbulent life and mystical visions of St Teresa of Ávila, alternating blazing, if harsh, episodes of visionary transcendence with the simple, devotional life of the convent. Carson Cooman (organ of Laurenskerk, Rotterdam).