Posted on 14 December 2020
The critic Guido Fischer is certainly impressed by the music and has given it five stars. Beginning with a statement about Thomas Simaku as one of contemporary composers unjustly neglected, the German critic writes:
“In fact, the structural complexity of Simaku’s musical language belies its wide expressive palette ranging from radical acerbity to mysterious intimacy – it really compels you to listen. Simaku was taught by Brian Ferneyhough, the high priest of the post-avant-garde; another of his idols is the dedicatee of a solo piano piece from 2011 which pianist Joseph Houston contributes to this portrait disc. This work, Hommage à Kurtág, develops from radically pared-down sonorities, often broken down by deafening silences, into music of explosive force and impact. The use of such minimal means to achieve these ultra-exciting effects brings Schoenberg’s pupil Anton Webern in mind, too, as well as his Hungarian admirer György Kurtág. And it is precisely Kurtág’s art, in which a whole world often arises from a single gesture, that served as a (presumably subconscious) model for Simaku as he composed some of the chamber and piano music recorded here.
"The six compositions, which stem from between 2010 and 2019, have found perfect interpreters in Joseph Houston and the Diotima Quartet. The 4th and 5th String Quartets are also both characterised by oppressive slowness and shocking upheavals. In spite of its Debussian aura, Lʼimage oubliée dʼaprès Debussy has a magical individuality. And the Piano Quintet con-ri-sonanza (2018) is the epitome of tempestuous rest (lessness) – likewise a piece to through yourself into wholeheartedly”.