trandafilovski polychromy metier

Mihailo Trandafilovski (b. 1974)
Chaconne for solo violin
Sandglass for solo clarinet
Sarenilo for two violins
Weaxan for violin, clarinet & piano
Polychromy for solo cello
String Dune[s] for two guitars
Grain-Song for solo violin
Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin); Mihailo Trandafilovski (piano); Roger Heaton (clarinet); Linda Merrick (clarinet); Neil Heyde (cello); Roderick Chadwick (violin); Miyabi Guitar Duo
rec. 2016-2022, Manchester and other UK locations
Métier MSV28629 [70]

For some of us this is a familiar mix: Trandafilovski, Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Métier; also Lorelt. Trandafilovski – Macedonian-born and London-based – is a contemporary composer who does not seek the adulation of the crowds. Well, perhaps, if he does look for crowds they must be crowds with a taste for the adventurous; the less obvious. He moves in circles that are at home on what we might term ‘the periphery’ … or at least those open to being persuaded. It’s a mark of the man’s creative engine that none of these pieces resort as a name to ‘symphony’ or ‘quartet’ or ‘sonata’.

Uncompromisingly he dives, in this disc, into a Chaconne for Skaerved’s piercingly intrepid solo violin. This piece, we are told, was inspired by Isang Yun’s Königliches Thema (1976). It’s a furiously serious piece that dismembers the envelope rather than pushing at its physical boundaries. It ends in virtuous silence after a splenetic disquisition. Similarly uncompromising is the final diptych (Grain-song) on the disc which is also for solo violin.

Sandglass is for Roger Heaton’s solo clarinet. This traversing of the clarinet universe was an evident delight for Trandafilovski. This exploration is expressed both in folksy accents and in an abstruse strangeness.

Sarenilo is Macedonian word for colourfulness. It’s a violin duo in two episodes, each separately tracked. The first episode, Mosaic is virtuosic, as you will by now expect, with techniques and affects that crumple conventional expectations. Nitki (or Threads), the second movement, is peaceful. Weakan is for a trio of violin, clarinet and piano. It is replete with lyrical gestures supported by a subtly discordant piano and a bat-like flittering violin. Polychromy is for solo cello. It was written for the soloist featured here, Neil Heyde. Its world is similar to that of Chaconne. String Dune(s) is for two guitars – it seems less “out there” than the other works. More accessible, it has more than its fair helping of the tropes we have come to expect from classical guitar.

The liner-notes could hardly be more authoritative and they are not drowning in obfuscation and the inwardly abstruse. The author, the composer, is very direct and avoids indulging psychological realms.

This is by and large music deliciously balanced on the edge of the void. One muses on what, given a free rein, a Trandafilovski orchestral work would sound like?

The composer has every reason to feel joy in what is heard here. These musician-collaborators, champions and, of course, Métier, should all doff the hat.

Rob Barnett

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