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Records International, September 2019

Albanian-born Simaku’s natural idiom is freely, though not aggressively, modern, adhering to no particular school or dogma. The most revealing pieces here, though, is the beautiful Albanian folk song, harmonised and elaborated with exquisite sensitivity. In the light of this, the concentrated intensity of expression in the pieces in a more dissonant vocabulary which often contains tonal elements, like the fast toccata-like material in The Flight of the Eagle, with its Messiaenic chords, long silences and sudden flurries of activity. © 2019 Records International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2019

It is eleven years ago that I was welcoming a disc of string quartets from the Albanian composer, Thomas Simaku, largely trained in England where he now lives.

That disc was recorded by the leader of the Kreutzer Quartet, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, who here takes part in world premiere recordings of Simaku’s works, involving violin and piano, all written in the present century when he had reached into his middle years. He uses a very individual musical language, as we hear in the opening work—Signals for solo piano—using moments of silence to punctuate a score best described as an enhancement of atonality. Titillating the ear with new sounds, the composer states that he has used the title, Capriccioso, to both describe the notation of the score for solo violin, just as much as to its form and shape. The pianist, Roderick Chadwick, and violin come together in Simaku’s embellished Albanian folk song, My Beautiful Morea, a most loveable melody. The sounds of Chris Orton’s alto and tenor recorders in Soliloquy V are often akin to the many different bird sounds I hear locally, the composer adding that his intention was to seek out ‘the technical possibilities of both instruments’. The booklet notes also explain, at length, the meaning and use of the name, ENgREnage, a duo for violin and piano, and we are also in much the same musical world for the Two Esquisses—played without a break—and written for solo piano in 2013. Sound Tree was intended as if planting a music tree to remember his friend, Richard Robbins, while The Flight of the Eagle, for solo piano, is the most extended work on the disc, and for the newcomer, it is an ideal place to enter Simaku’s unique musical world. The disc was recorded in the concert hall of York University, in the north of England, where Simaku is a ‘Reader in Composition’, and must have taken considerable amount of preparation for all concerned. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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