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Performances throughout Europe this Autumn for Thomas Simaku

Posted on 30 September 2012

The 2012-13 concert season sees a number of Thomas Simaku's works presented at prestigious festivals across Europe. Two substantial new works, Trois Esquisses and ThreeSaxLines will receive their world premières on 19th October and 10 November respectively.

Trois Esquisses is written for and dedicated to the talented pianist Joseph Houston. 'I was so impressed with Joe's performance in Messiaen's Turangalila at York last year, and I wasn't the only one; later on, the precision and sheer energy he demonstrated in the performance of my piece The Flight of the Eagle left me in no doubt as to who I was going to write my next piano piece for - and here it is!'  Trois Esquisses receives its first performance at St Martin in the Field in London.

The other new work, ThreeSaxLines, written for and dedicated to the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, will receive its world premiere at the 2012 November Music Festival in Holland. An internationally renowned ensemble, The Raschèrs have premiered works by composers such as Berio, Xenakis and Donatoni, among others; the Wiener Zeitung described them as 'the La Salle Quartet of the woodwind world; the uncrowned kings of the saxophone in classical music'.

Although each of the above works has its own unmistakable character and, according to Simaku, 'are as far apart as two works by the same composer can be', they are interconnected by the 'homage theme'. As the title suggests, Trois Esquisses 'stems from a single chord, whose energetic unfolding right at the beginning of the piece could well be compared to the sketching of a drawing in one stroke of the pen! However, two quotations - Ligeti's Lamento motif and the opening motif of Chopin's Ballade No 1 in G-minor - are juxtaposed at a strategic point in the formal structure. There are no direct quotations as such in ThreeSaxLines, but the outer movements pay homage to both Ligeti and Kurtág; whilst in the middle there is a 'ferociously dynamic' Dance Terrestre.'

Simaku's collaboration with the Paris-based Quatuor Diotima goes back a few years when they performed his Radius String Quartet No 2 at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2009. Written for and dedicated to Diotima, String Quartet No 4 was first performed at Huddersfield Festival in 2011 and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3's flagship programme of new music Hear & Now. The piece will receive its European Premiere on 26th September 2012 at Alicante International Festival - Spain's largest festival of contemporary music.

As Simaku writes in the programme note, 'the idiosyncratic quality of the work lies in the harmonic idiom which is centred on specific aspects of modality and its microtonal inflections constantly surrounded by total chromaticism; in the final stage of the work both operate exclusively within the spectrum of the natural overtones.'

Simaku's award-winning work Soliloquy V - Flauto Acerbo was selected by the international jury and will receive its European premiere at the 2012 ISCM - World Music Days on 1st November in Bruges, performed by Tomma Wessel in a programme entitled 'New Music from Three Continents'.

Commissioned by Christopher Orton and the BBC Performing Arts Fund, the piece received a British Composer Award in 2009; the judging panel 'unanimously agreed that the winning work redefines the instrument in a visionary and entirely original way'.

Ensembles performing Simaku's music this autumn include Ergon Ensemble (Athens) and El Perrot Andaluz (Dresden), whilst Christopher Orton will be performing Soliloquy V at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham.

For a full list of Simaku's forthcoming performances please follow the link: