Another intriguing selection from Milan's Music Festivals, this programme pairs a solo violin work by György Kurtág with a dramatic song-cycle by Salvatore Sciarrino.
The former's Hipartita was dedicated to violinist Hiromi Kikuchi, who performs it with aspects ranging from sombre to inquisitive, as the individual sections demand. By turns weightily rigorous and gossamer light, its debt to Ligeti is apparent. Sciarrino's Aspern Suite - based on Henry James' The Aspern Papers - opens with skittish, darting viola and explosive flute-breaths, prefiguring the quixotic action to come, and makes extensive use of Ensemble Recherche's expertise with unusual techniques, such as rubbed percussion "roaring" and breathy wind-noises, to animate a story whose vocal (by soprano Petra Hoffman) is at times broken into hysterical, staccato syllables.
It's hard to imagine another ensemble that could make such dissonance sound so normal.
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