Francisco Guerrero (1951-97) was an influential Andalusian composer and teacher.
He developed an interest in investigating the nature of sound, and became
involved with electro-acoustics in the early 70s. He linked music with its
scientific dimensions and incorporated 'fractals' in his compositional processes
- but please do not stop reading here!
Zayin is a major work composed over a 14 year span, finished in the year
of his premature death. Five of the eight pieces, which can be played separately,
are for string trio; two for quartet and the longest of all for solo violin.
It begins explosively with violent dissonance and a harsh surface sound.
Words cannot describe adequately its changing moods and the extremely varied
impressions it makes superficially, nor is it likely to be helpful to paraphrase
the description of technical structures provided. The instruments are almost
never played in a conventional melodic manner (indeed you will not find a
tune in the whole hour of music) but the cumulative effect of the extended
techniques employed is invigorating and, to my ears, exciting. It is easier
to take than a lot of modernist music, because his sound structures burst
with imagination in colour and rhythmic vitality. To quote a typical passage
from Stefano Russomanno's essay, 'Zayin IV explodes violently - -
in turbulent ascending spirals, the sound matter always regenerated with
increasing tension'. The 16 minute Zayin VI explores the violin's
low G string, as if looking for more depth, producing a dark sound - 'a violin
that wants to sound like a quartet'.
If you know, and are comfortable with, the Ardittis' recordings of Xenakis
and Ferneyhough [Montaigne 782005 & 789002] you should enjoy this. If
not, start not at the beginning, which may feel like a plunge into ice-cold
water, but sample first Zayin V, 'one of Guerrero's most exquisitely
sweet works' says the notes writer (with which I concur) or the 16 minute
violin solo Zayin VI, a fine pendant to Irvine Arditti's delightful
recital of music for unaccompanied violin by Ferneyhough, Carter, Donatoni,
de Pablo etc [Montaigne 789003].
Each of those CDs scores
book, and this new one, made in association with WDR, sounds particularly
well, apparently made in a more sympathetic, less dry, recording ambience
than some of those in Montaigne's indispensable Arditti Quartet Edition.
The players are pictured but not named. The inner voices have been through
many changes of personnel, without noticeably affecting the Arditti Quartet's
reliably high standard, so here is a photo of the line-up on this CD.
Peter Grahame Woolf