Mihailo Trandafilovski: Polychromy. © 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC

CD Spotlight

Very Worthwhile and Creative

GEOFF PEARCE discovers the music of Macedonian-born Mihailo Trandafilovski

'... the performers are outstanding ...'


This very interesting disc features the music of a composer that I had not heard of before - Mihailo Trandafilovski (born 1974) - and some very accomplished performers for whom this music was written. It was a challenging, but fascinating experience, and one that was rewarding, as it is always a delight to hear new composers - to me at least - and new works, and it always leaves me enriched - even if the work does not immediately reveal its charms. The title for this recording, Polychromy, means 'many colours' and is certainly apt.

The first work, Chaconne, is performed by Peter Sheppard Skærved, and is of about thirteen minutes in duration. This form, which has been widely used since the seventeenth century, starts with a seven bar theme. Over the course of the work, this theme goes through many changes, and the performer is called on to employ a wide variety of techniques to achieve this ever shifting soundscape. There is a seriousness and intensity to this work, that never descends into mere gimmicks, and the piece ends quietly, as it began, with a modified return to the theme, in a retrograde, augmented and modified form.

Listen — Mihailo Trandafilovski: Chaconne
(msv 28629 track 1, 11:23-12:03) ℗ 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC :

The next work, Sandglass, performed by Roger Heaton, starts expansively and ends the same way. The silence between notes is as important as the notes themselves. The work becomes infinitely more concentrated and dense towards the middle before finally relaxing as it goes out - therefore the concept of the hourglass shape. The sonic capabilities of the clarinet are fully explored - glissando, double trills, multiphonics, harmonics, flutter-tonguing and changing the colour of notes by adding extra keys, as well as exploring the extreme compass of the instrument's range. Roger Heaton is exceptionally good at this, and one is astounded at this man's virtuosity. I do not know that much about extended techniques, as far as performing them, as it is not something that appeals to me personally, but I was amazed at what could be achieved.

Listen — Mihailo Trandafilovski: Sandglass
(msv 28629 track 2, 3:52-4:26) ℗ 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC :

Šarenilo (pronounced 'Sharenilo' - Macedonian for 'colourfulness') is a violin duo involving Peter Sheppard Skærved and the composer, and the programme notes go fully into what he is portraying in the two movements. I find this work is particularly effective, and it may be the work on the disc that has the widest appeal. The two movements, just over four minutes each, are reflective and have a beauty about them. I think one would have to be in an almost meditative state to bring this off.

Listen — Mihailo Trandafilovski: Nitki (Šarenilo)
(msv 28629 track 4, 1:13-2:00) ℗ 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC :

Weaxan was written for and performed by clarinettist Linda Merrick, pianist Roderick Chadwick and violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved. The title of the work is in Old English and means to wax or grow. The composer, who has written the programme notes for the disc, explains his concept and that whilst the three instruments are treated as separate entities, there is a lot that is shared, and after the 'Waxing' there comes a slight waning where no further rise occurs. The growth, almost imperceptible at first, is not constant. There is a pause before the final growth is reached, before the work rapidly subsides and is left with a high clarinet note at the end.

Polychromy, for solo cello, performed by dedicatee Neil Heyde, certainly lives up to its name, and is a fantastic work which presents the wide range of sounds that extended techniques for the instrument can employ. However it is far more than a collection of effects and sounds, and is a compelling and satisfying work. The control needed by the player to bring this off is very demanding, and I was certainly most impressed by this piece.

Listen — Mihailo Trandafilovski: Polychromy
(msv 28629 track 6, 6:22-7:04) ℗ 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC :

String Dune(s) for guitar duo, is played by Hugh Millington and Saki Kato. The composer, in his notes, talks about how he researches and collaborates before writing for instruments he does not play, and whilst his pieces will push upon the boundaries of what is playable, the end results are very effective. Trandafilovski states: 'The title of the piece refers to the overall shape - a "dune" - within which there are smaller dunes, developing throughout the composition - and reflecting the waves / vibration of strings.'

Listen — Mihailo Trandafilovski: String Dune(s)
(msv 28629 track 7, 3:49-4:41) ℗ 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC :

Grain-Song, in two parts, is performed by Peter Sheppard Skærved. The first piece, 'Grain', is 'elemental', somewhat sparse in nature, and one in which the silence between notes is important.

The section section, 'Song', is more lyrical, using more traditional techniques. The composer describes it as 'perhaps more human'. Its development, for the casual listener, is perhaps easier to comprehend, and I find it a satisfying way to end this disc.

Listen — Mihailo Trandafilovski: Song (Grain-Song)
(msv 28629 track 9, 2:48-3:40) ℗ 2022 Divine Art Ltd / Diversions LLC :

This is a very interesting and impressive album. The recording engineering is sound, the music interesting, the performers are outstanding, and very clear and explanatory programme notes make this a disc to have, if you want the challenge of hearing something new. Please listen with an open mind because I feel this is a very worthwhile and creative disc.

Copyright © 19 December 2022 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia






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