Eight women composers to watch in 2023

Lawrence Dunn, Bachtrack, March 8, 2023
Thursday, March 9, 2023 Press

Éliane Radigue’s working method is one of the most unusual among all composers today. Born in Paris in 1932, she spent her early career making music with tape loops feeding back on themselves, and later with the ARP 2500 synthesiser. But beginning in the late 1990s she began a series of extraordinary works for acoustic instrumentalists.

Much in the same way as she manipulated feedback on tape machines, this time live instrumentalists would be given a small, verbal instruction as impulse (typically a descriptive image), and asked to dwell on it. No notation is made by the composer, though players might make their own notes as memory aids. While attending to the play of high harmonics, musicians’ typically long and sustained pitches interact with utmost subtlety and delicacy (as can be heard in this recording by Quatuor Bozzini).

Radigue’s music is both intense and tranquil, enveloping us but also playing in the foreground. Her Occam series, all constructed in this way through verbal exchange with musicians, has grown to more than 60 works for different instrumental combinations.

Éliane Radigue’s working method is one of the most unusual among all composers today.


Keith Prosk, harmonic series, March 1, 2023
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 Press

Isabelle Bozzini, Stéphanie Bozzini, Alissa Cheung, and Clemens Merkel perform two 37’ realizations of their delta from Éliane Radigue’s Occam Ocean across consecutive dates on Occam Delta XV.

If it were only the numbered series of releases from shiiin, that each Occam recording introduces something special could be considered a conscious aspect of presentation but as this characteristic continues through independent presentations too it might illuminate the naturalistic diversity inherent to a system whose foundation begins with the foundation of life. Recordings have seemed to so far systematically introduced occam, river, delta, and ocean forms, traced one performer through them, provoked comparison of behaviors in instrumentation with all strings or all winds. Always each showcases the relationship of the performer to their instrument and the limit of each. This delta feels special in that while other ensembles — Zinc & Copper, Decibel, Onceim — are anchored by a chevalier with an occam Quatuor Bozzini stands without as a kind of unit unto itself. This is also the first presentation to provide two recordings together, across consecutive nights and, though it’s ambiguous, I assume the same place.

And it is the first delta to sound deltaic to me. The quartet begins closer to unison than it ends, with the gradual recognition that bowing cadences seem to have drifted towards their instruments’ natural frequencies, twin violins in relative ecstatic excitation over low and slow cello, having got there by a meandering way that felt in the moment to be suspended, slow bowings’ strokes carving bank and bar in epochal time, a rise in volume splaying harmonics like the channel widens at the space it splits, the intuition and the information of never stepping in the same river twice. In between always a world of harmonics like life under a microscope, teeming. A few provide markers across evenings as fossils would. A kind of high-tension tanpura buzz. A dancing satyr fluting. The differences are subtle but tangible, felt more than known and ineffable. Perhaps the satyr’s bolder on the first night and the tanpura on the second. But it lights the imagination to wonder the minute physical parameters that would change the sound, the pressure and the temperature of the room one night or another, beyond the infinite variations in the performers’ hands.

A kind of high-tension tanpura buzz. A dancing satyr fluting.


Ben Harper, Boring Like A Drill, February 6, 2023
Monday, February 13, 2023 Press

Nearly twelve years ago I was in the audience for Rhodri Davies giving the first performance of Éliane Radigue’s Occam I for prepared harp, little suspecting the proliferation of acoustic pieces that would follow in the series. I’ve blown hot and cold on them ever since that equivocal premiere, having heard various Occam iterations for solo, duo and larger groups which I found either intriguing, technically interesting or just rote. Occam Delta XV, composed for the Quatuor Bozzini in 2018, is the first Radigue piece that’s got me really enthused since hearing her Naldjorlak trilogy at that same gig so many years ago. While Naldjorlak creates awe through its sublime, immaculate surface, Occam Delta XV is far more turbulent. The drones that make up Radigue’s compositions have always been in constant motion, but this string quartet draws on an inherent complexity in the material seldom heard since she abandoned the use of analog synthesiser. A lot of that can be attributed to Quatuor Bozzini, too. Radigue taught them the piece orally and their peculiar quality of playing — making music sound both very new and very old all at once — comes to the fore here. Two performances are presented here, recorded live on consecutive nights in late 2021. It’s a piece that depends on communication and mutual feedback between the four musicians to guide its progress, and so the two versions vary greatly, with each sounding more like a studio creation than a live gig. In the first, variations in the bowing produce a handwoven, folk-like aspect to the music, stretched and suspended into watery, wavering overtones like a Canterbury hippie’s pastoral reverie. Pitch material varies over the course of the piece, thickening into a dense passage of multiphonics while transforming further and further away from its tonal origins. From the second night, things are calmer but darker, thinning out into wisps of harmonics before ultimately resolving in more conventional fashion. I wonder if other quartets could produce astonishing results from this piece, but I suspect they would be very different from the Bozzini.

A lot of that can be attributed to Quatuor Bozzini, too. Radigue taught them the piece orally and their peculiar quality of playing — making music sound both very new and very old all at once — comes to the fore here.


Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, January 28, 2023
Monday, February 13, 2023 Press

For her ongoing series Occam Delta, the French composer Éliane Radigue (b.1932) has collaborated with various performers, marking her shift, this century, from mainly electronic works to music for acoustic instruments. Occam Delta XV (Actuelle) is dedicated to Quatuor Bozzini, who premiered it in Montréal in 2018. Radigue’s music is about constant flux: sounds that appear unchanging yet shift almost imperceptibly. The business of listening is part meditation, part heightened concentration, or “hyperconsciousness”, as the liner note explains it. Out of long, sustained chords, a whirr of microtones and harmonics eventually become audible. The process offers a powerful antidote to our short-attention-span world, if you can take it. Switch your phone off and spot the difference between two different versions, performed live and played with dedication by the Bozzinis.

The process offers a powerful antidote to our short-attention-span world…


Peter Margasak, The Wire, no. 469, March 1, 2023
Monday, February 13, 2023 Press
Over the years Quatuor Bozzini have developed a sterling reputation for their ability to bring astonishing rigour and precision to the thorniest, most exploratory work — whether dazzling quartets of Wandelweiser mainstay Jürg Frey or the psychoacoustic experiments of Alvin Lucier, with many stops in between — and the multifaceted sound world they produce here is as glorious and rich as anything in the group’s vast repertoire.


Raul da Gama, The WholeNote, no. 28:4, February 1, 2023
Friday, February 10, 2023 Press
Bravo to both for this visionary music.