New CD Release: ‘Thomas Simaku: SOLO’ from Ensemble intercontemporain

UYMP eagerly awaits the release of a new album from Ensemble intercontemporain on 29th September 2023, featuring five works by Thomas Simaku: Soliloquy VII, Catena II, Soliloquy VIII, Soliloquy IX, and Catena III. The Soliloquy cycle began life in 1991, and since then, the series has grown to encompass every instrumental family of the orchestra. “The objective of these works is to delve into and examine the expressive andtechnical characteristics of each instrument, producing highly virtuosic, idiosynchratic music.” Simaku’s first album release on NMC “showcases some of the composer’s most recent solo works, each one reaching a depth of expression beyond what seems possible with a single instrument”.

Ensemble intercontemporain was founded in 1976 by Pierre Boulez; the musicians of the resident ensemble at the Philharmonie de Paris are some of the most highly-regarded soloists in the world. The opening work Soliloquy VII for clarinet and resonant piano is performed by the piece’s dedicatee – Jérôme Comte.  This recording “displays the unparalleled versatility and dynamic range of his instrument; the ‘vocal’ qualities of its sound enhanced by the resonant chamber of the piano into which he plays”. Catena II is performed by pianist Dimitri Vassilakis, and represents “a journey into the spiralling colours, gestures and dynamics possible on the piano”. Percussionist Aurélien Gignoux performs Soliloquy VIII for marimba plus, in which Simaku “treat[s] the marimba as if it were an orchestra with a huge range of colours and a number of individual lines constantly interacting with one another”. In his composition Soliloquy IX for trumpet and resonant piano, Simaku makes use of “delicate muted sections, menacing pitch bending, and bell-like resonances”, conceiving the trumpet part as a “resonating canvas” brought to life by soloist Clément Saunier. The disc concludes with Catena III – Corona – Simaku’s personal reflection on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic through the use of “tumultuous syncopated figures and gloomy, lyrical moments”.