Kim Kashkashian, who won a Grammy last year with her solo viola Kurtág/Ligeti disc, returns with a new trio. Tre Voci includes Italian-American flutist Marina Piccinini and Israeli harpist Sivan Magen. All three musicians have been acknowledged for bringing a new voice to their instruments. Kashkashian, Piccinini and Magen first played together at the 2010 Marlboro Music Festival, and agreed that the potential of this combination was too great to limit it to a single season. Since then they have been developing their repertoire. On this compelling first release it revolves around Debussy’s 1915 “Sonata for flute, viola and harp” and its influence, most directly felt in Takemitsu’s shimmering “And then I knew ’twas Wind”. Debussy himself had been profoundly moved by his encounter with music of the East and in his last works was emphasizing tone-colour, texture and timbre and a different kind of temporal flow.
In this music, the elasticity of Debussy’s feeling for time (as Heinz Holliger observed) pointed far into the future and to the works of Boulez. And indeed to the music of Sofia Gubaidulina, whose “Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten” (“Garden of Joys and Sorrows”) makes its own reckoning with orient and occident. Gubaidulina has said that she considers herself "a daughter of two worlds, whose soul lives in the music of the East and the West". As Jürg Stenzl points out in the liner notes, hardly any composer of his generation was more greatly affected by the discovery of Debussy's music than Tōru Takemitsu: “This largely self-taught composer had already studied a broad range of recent 'western' musics before he turned to the 'classical' traditions of his native Japan. The late work ‘And then I knew 'twas Wind’ scored for the same instruments as Debussy's second sonata, is especially characteristic of his understanding of music” ...
… and emphasizes what Takemitsu called “the vibrant complexity of sound as it exists in the instrument”. His composition resembles Debussy's in its free and rhapsodic form, but unlike Debussy's 'musique pure', Takemitsu's title relates to a poem by Emily Dickinson:
“Like Rain it sounded till it curved / And then I knew ‘twas Wind – / It walked as wet as any Wave / But swept as dry as sand – / When it had pushed itself away / To some remotest Plain …”
Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten” (“Garden of Joys and Sorrows”) also draws upon lyric poetry for inspiration. The work concludes with a recitation of a poem by Austrian-born writer Francisco Tanzer, but its title comes from a text by the Moscow poet Iv Oganov. The vivid imagery of Oganov’s poem makes itself forcefully felt in Gubaidulina’s work: “The lotus was set aflame by music / The white garden began to ring again with diamond borders.”
The composer, in her words, was compelled to a concrete aural perception of this garden, explored at length in the music. As with Takemitsu the flow of the work retains an improvisational freshness, and the combined sound-colours of viola, harp and flute are as beguiling as in the Debussy sonata.
Tre Voci’s album was recorded in April, 2013 at the Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano, and produced by Manfred Eicher. It is released in time for a European tour with a programme including music of Debussy, Takemitsu and Gubaidulina.