Thursday 1 October 2020



The gales of sound in 'S'iscravamentu', conjured up by UK's very own Ligeti Quartet, are deep glowing squalls that dive into the dramatic scenery of Sardinia, its jutting outcrops, jagged coastline, carpets of macchia, ultramarine seas.

Concocted by English composer Christian Mason, the piece recreates the sea shanty-esque registers of Sardinia's own tenores — polyphonic folk singing that, uniquely for Europe, is actually a form of overtone (throat) singing. As such, Ligeti Quartet's treatment of Mason's reworking of this UNESCO-recognised folk music is necessarily rich and variegated.

Thick harmonies hang heavy in the air, and the scratch and staccato of the strings is resolutely tangible, but quieter moments see the instruments become thin, veils of sound lost in their own rapture of unnerving silent howls. The physicality of the instruments — their wood, the strings, the hands that play them — is such that you could imagine literally picking up and handling this music. It's that spirit of solidity that really reflects the resonant, guttural songs at the root of this composition.

  • 🔔 'S'Iscravamentu' is taken from Ligeti Quartet's debut album Songbooks, Vol. 1, marking their 10th year of playing as a quartet. It contains two vocal-inspired projects — one following the Sardinian cantu a tenòre tradition, the other Tuvan throat singing — composed for strings by Christian Mason. It also features one song originally by Nunavut singer and composer, Tanya Tagaq.

    Scheduled for release on 9th October via UK label nonclassical, you can pre-order Songbooks, Vol. 1 from Bandcamp now, or peruse the album tracklist below at your leisure.

    Ligeti Quartet — Songbooks, Vol. 1 tracklist
    1. Sai Ma (Racing Horses)
    Tuvan Songbook
    2. Dyngylday (Good-for-nothing)
    3. Eki Attar (The Best Steeds)
    4. Kuda Yry (Wedding Song)
    5. Ezir-Kara (‘Black Eagle’)
    Sardinian Songbook
    6. S'iscravamentu (Deposition of Christ)
    7. Ballate a Ballu Tundu (Dance a Circle Dance)
    8. Satiras (Satire)
    9. Muttos (Motets)
    10. Sivunittinni (The Future Ones) by Tanya Tagaq

Ligeti Quartet Internet Presence ☟
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Christian Mason Internet Presence ☟
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