Oscar Bianchi's MATRA, a cantata for vocal sextet, instrumental ensemble, a trio of rare low-register instruments and electronics took over the Kitchen on April 19 for the 16th annual MATA Festival.
Setting ancient texts from three very different sources - Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, Lucretius's De Rerum Natura and Gnostic gospel passages from Mary Magdalene, Bianchi's multi-layered music celebrates the many dimensions of material life. Bianchi's penchant for voices and spectral electronics, and his studies under Tristan Murail, are in evidence in the score.
The world-famous Neue Vocalsolisten, for whom the piece was written, produced glottal effects, rapid melismas and close, microtonal harmonies with stunning virtuosity. They were joined by a trio of instrumental soloists, Eliot Gattegno on tubax (contrabass saxophone), Miako Klein on contrabass recorder and Alice Teyssier on bass flute.
While the voices intoned prayerful texts, the trio concertante symbolized, according to the composer, "the tireless inward-looking and inescapable flurry of Samsara, a place of ignorant passions (or of a passion for ignorance)." The International Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by David Fulmer, played the part of nature itself in this work, providing solid rhythmic underpinning and a spectral backdrop for the soloists.
Oscar Bianchi – MATRA
Recorded and mixed by Noriko Okabe.