John Zorn

From Silence to Sorcery

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Tzadik's 13th release devoted to the music of John Zorn is appropriately made up of three of his works inspired by the supernatural, specifically related to the dark arts. Goetia, eight incantations for solo violin, is named for the medieval practice of Goety, which details the requirements for summoning spirits into physical form in order to compel them to perform the magician's requests. Zorn's movements each use the same ordering of pitches, but configured in such a variety of ways that it's difficult to perceive patterns in its frenetic, creepy development. Jennifer Choi negotiates its outrageous demands with aplomb and consistently beautiful tone. Gris-Gris, a protective charm in the practice of Haitian Voudon, is the title of a remarkably virtuosic solo for 13 tuned drums and kick drum, performed with demonic energy by William Winant. The most compelling (and genuinely spookiest) work on the CD is Shibboleth, a tribute to poet Paul Celan. Zorn's assessment of it as one of his best pieces is absolutely correct. Scored for chamber ensemble and written within a narrow dynamic range using small, enigmatic sounds, it's notable for the variety of its sonorities, for its disciplined economy, and for the integrity of the evocative sound world he creates. Violist Lois Martin, cellist Fred Sherry, and Steve Drury on clavichord join Choi and Winant in a haunting performance conducted by Brad Lubman. Tzadik's sound is realistic, clean, and atmospheric.

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