Wunderkind violist Nadia Sirota is a member of yMusic and Alarm Will Sound — a chamber sextet and orchestra, respectively — but you may also recognize her from performances with Sigur Rós' Jónsi and Arcade Fire. She delivers an extraordinarily skilful, richly varied performance on her new album, Tessellatum.
And this is no easy assignment. Donnacha Dennehy composed Tessellatum for no less than 15 string parts. Multi-tracked, those parts combine to deliver a kind of pseudo-symphonic onslaught. You'll be amazed, overwhelmed and perhaps both.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the album, though, is Liam Byrne's superb performance on the viola da gamba, an ancient instrument most often associated with the later Middle Ages. Because its microtonal quality sounds so much like a modern-day synthesizer — and because a new generation was turned onto the viola da gamba by groups like Dead Can Dance — the instrument has a genuinely timeless quality. It has a lot to do with the success of this beautiful recording.
Additionally, the music of Tessellatum has also been set to video. Animator Steven Mertens has taken up Dennehy's Man vs. Nature theme with brightly coloured shapes against a black background. It's nicely done, and adds a welcome dimension to Sirota's album. (Bedroom Community)