Horatio Radulescu: Intimate Rituals

Horatiu Radulescu

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Horatio Radulescu: Intimate Rituals Review

by Blair Sanderson

In his short chamber works, particularly in his cutting-edge pieces for viola, Horatiu Radulescu has been able to demonstrate his extended instrumental techniques and advanced theories of spectral music most clearly and effectively without resorting to the overwhelming wall of noise of his String Quartet No. 4 or the dense textures of his larger ensemble pieces. In most cases, one instrument is sufficient to produce the complex harmonics and microtonal swarms that vibrate, twitter, and shimmer on this 2006 release from Sub Rosa; such intricate solo explorations as Das Andere for viola, Op. 49 (1984, translated as Alter Ego), and Lux Animae II for viola, Op. 97â (1996-2000) are among the most economical of his highly ornate and intensely busy studies. On the occasions when one instrument is not enough, as in the Agnus Dei for two violas, Op. 84 (1991), and Intimate Rituals XI for scordatura viola and sound icon, Op. 63ø (2003), the effect of the additional parts is like an extension of one sonic entity, not of a duet or single line instrument with accompaniment. Radulescu's work usually sounds like a flurry of notes that are difficult to sort out and must be taken as a mass of indeterminate pitches and upper partials that are meant to flutter and resonate as an aggregate. But in spite of the extreme complexity and sometimes harsh sonorities, what gives Radulescu's music its appeal is the exotic color that overtakes all the noises and makes them sound otherworldly and sometimes quite magical. Few pieces are as hypnotic as Intimate Rituals, with its taped drones and resonant plucking (on Radulescu's "sound icon," a grand piano turned on its side and tuned to unisons with various string tensions), and the squealing of the literally high-strung viola turns mysteriously into an ethereal aria from beyond the stratosphere. The performances by violists Vincent Royer and Gerard Causse, with Petra Junken and the composer playing the sound icon, are bold and uncompromising, and this album is recommended for adventurous listeners who like their music fierce and fearless.

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