YASSEN VODENITCHAROV (b.1964): The Snow Woman, Persian Miniatures (Maya Pavlovska, Dorthée Lorthiois [sopranos], Ensemble “l’Itinéraire”; Kanako Abé), The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Angèle Chemin [soprano], Pierre-Yves Artaud [piccolo, bass flute], French Flute Orchestra; Marc Hajjar.)
Catalogue Number: 04T075
Reference: GD 401/402
Description: The Bulgarian composer has lived in Japan, and is an authority on Japanese theatre and music, which presumably goes some way toward explaining the very audible influence of the ritualistic gestures of Noh theatre on these works - even the chamber opera on a mediæval German legend or the settings of 13th century Persian poetry. Vodenitcharov uses the full resources of contemporary techniques to supply the aural staging for his music-dramas; like Japanese theatre the music is an inseparable from, and accompanimental to, the stage action. The composer's use of timbre is highly original, extending to wood blocks and percussive effects and woodwind playing that suggest Japanese music, but also to extended techniques and electronics (sometimes it's hard to tell where the one stops and the other starts) to portray the winter tempests of The Snow Woman (a Brothers Grimm-like traditional Japanese tale), or the squealing and susurration of the rats in The Pied Piper (which is scored for the unusual forces of a large ensemble of flutes plus various percussion). The solo vocal parts, though, which occupy center stage other than during purely instrumental interludes, are suggestive of French art song, with a lovely melodic lilt, possibly reflecting the fact that the operas were French commissions. Effective and involving theatre with music, then, if not what one usually thinks of as chamber opera in the west. French-English texts for Miniatures and synopses for the operas.