SOMAR AJALYAQIN (b.1978): String Quartet “Wuhan Oblivion”, Cello Sonata, Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano “The Cricket in the Mirror”, 5 Piano Pieces.

Catalogue Number: 11X061

Label: Gramola

Reference: 99202

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: This début disc of compositions by the Syrian-Emirati composer suggests a composer with a wide expressive range and impeccable craftsmanship and an idiom grounded in tonality. The Piano Pieces are character pieces of distinct identity, with traces of Impressionism and full-blooded Romantic virtuosity, humour and vivid descriptiveness. The three-movement Cello Sonata has a Romantic first movement; a central "Moderato", initially sombre and shadowy in mood, with some unusual timbres from the cello, then alternating a rather impressionistic march, lyrical episodes reminiscent of Debussy, and reprises of the opening material; and a furiously virtuosic and propulsive finale with capricious melodic episodes. The clarinet Fantasy takes its cue from Kafka's "Metamorphosis" in a surreal, animated, sometimes humorous dialogue between the two instruments. The string quartet, its title perhaps a little provocative depending on your point of view, is a recent work, composed during the year of lockdown. Tense and edgy, its imagery of eerily deserted streets and pervasive unease and uncertainty vividly portrayed, the work is in three movements; strained and foreboding, haunted by skeletal rattling; a lyrical lament with a slow danse macabre mood; and an agitated Allegro full of insectoid rustlings, whirrings, and scrapings, with a desolate coda. Santos String Quartet, Christoph Croisé (cello), Heinz-Peter Linshalm (clarinet), Anna Volovitch (piano).

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