The Siberian State Symphony Orchestra / Vladimir Lande ALICIA TERZIAN Off The Edge

Argentinian composer, conductor, and scholar Alicia Terzian's new Navona release Off the Edge is an incredible journey into the heart of the string orchestra. The four works on the album introduce listeners to Terzian's captivating compositional perspective and enchanting treatment of this ensemble's sonic potential. Her writing focuses heavily on the drama, nuance, and contrasts accessible through instrumental color, and Off the Edge showcases numerous audacious textures involving a simple string orchestra, as well as pairings of large string ensemble with percussion and voice. To this end, Terzian's work Tres Piezas para Orquestra de Cuerdas is the album's simplest presentation of strings, as it is the only piece on the album to feature string orchestra by itself. Even so, this highly sectional piece demonstrates the ensemble's considerable textural flexibility. As one might expect, the composer uses the group as a conventional and singular melodic force with the accompaniment of solo violin and cello. More importantly, Tres Piezas is a varied work, and yields many other situations that exploit string instruments' capacity to produce both compellingly powerful and delicate sounds. The other works on Off the Edge more commonly play to the extremes of the string orchestra's sonic palette. This tendency is encapsulated in the first minutes of Carmen Criaturalis, a concerto for horn, string orchestra, and percussion. Here, Terzian fuses the sounds of a rolling cymbal with trembling, sliding strings, which give way to the solo horn's moaning entrance. As the work proceeds, the orchestra accompanies its soloists with strings playing called "col legno battuto", a distinctive technique in which a player taps their instrument's strings with the wood of their bow. Canto a Mi Misma features an enthralling form, as well as rich, vivified string textures. Scored for string orchestra and percussion, the composition thrillingly withholds the percussionists' entrance until the work's finale minutes, delivering a stunning revelation to the listener at the precise moment one thinks the piece is winding down to its conclusion. The album's titular work combines strings, percussion, choir and bass soloist in a dramatic and expansive musical design. (Naxos)

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