Violist Anne Lanzilotti releases her debut solo album, focusing on the art of transcription, with repertoire by Caroline Shaw, Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Lanzilotti herself. Featuring premiere recordings of the viola versions of all these works, "in manus tuas" is a celebration of the expressive and lyrical side of the contemporary viola repertoire by one of its most accomplished and active advocates.
|Karl Larson, piano|
|01||i. with shifting change|
i. with shifting change
|02||ii. to be so tickled|
ii. to be so tickled
|03||iii. my tongue-tied muse|
iii. my tongue-tied muse
|04||iv. so far from variation|
iv. so far from variation
|05||v. confounded to decay|
v. confounded to decay
|06||in manus tuas|
in manus tuas
|Sarah Mullins, percussion||11:29|
|09||Transitions (for solo viola, originally cello)|
Transitions (for solo viola, originally cello)
Violist and composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s debut full length recording, “in manus tuas,” explores the art of transcription and its implications for contemporary repertoire. In the digital age, the distinction between transposition (available to us at the click of a button) and transcription becomes even more important, as the latter demands consideration not only of an accommodation to the literal register of the new instrument, but also of that instrument’s characteristic voice, and invariably, of the transcriber’s relationship to the instrument and the repertoire. On this lyrical recording, Lanzilotti presents the premiere recordings of the viola versions of several works originally written for violin or cello (and the premiere recording of her work outright), asserting the dynamism of the transcriber’s art.
Andrew Norman is well known for his comprehensive command over the extended technique language for strings and his implementation of that vocabulary in the service of expressive music that is full of character. In his Shakespeare inspired Sonnets (2011), the five movements explore a different composite texture between piano and viola in their evocation of fragments from the Bard’s poetry. The first features a mournful melody in the viola as Messiaen-esque chords accumulate energy in the keyboard. In the second movement, “to be so tickled,” ricochet articulations in the viola and coquettish arpeggios in the high register of the keyboard egg each other on in a rolling series of giggles. The halting, fragile articulation in the viola in “my tongue-tied muse” suggests the discomfort of communicating through resistance and difficulty — in Lanzilotti’s note she refers to this texture as the “stutter technique.” The piano plays sparse, hollow voicings as the viola struggles to assert a more full-throated voice. In “so far from variation,” pointed accents interrupt an ascending motive and consistently send it back to the first note of the phrase, frustrating its efforts at stringing together a longer line. The final movement, “confounded to decay,” opens with delicate harmonics in the viola that climb up the partials of the overtone series as the piano plays descending figures that reframe the music’s scalar context. The work ends with the piano alone, in an exploration of embedded melodic implication within the resonance of sustained chords.Read More
Originally for solo cello, Caroline Shaw’s in manus tuas was inspired by hearing a Thomas Tallis motet. Fragments of Tallis’ piece are heard in deconstructed form, though Shaw’s focus is less on a recomposition or manipulation of existing material than on an elongation of poignant expressive moments. After an expansive arpeggiation passage, Shaw’s work turns inward to close with strummed and plucked chords before two final bowed sighing gestures.
Lanzilotti’s Gray (2017) for viola and auxiliary percussion was originally written as a collaborative piece with dance, though the version heard here was recorded as a work for sound alone. In the original cross-discipline format, the pacing of the sections is determined by the dancers, acknowledging their unique physicality, and Lanzilotti preserves that spirit of variability in this audio performance.
Norman’s Sabina is inspired by the refraction of light as it comes through stained glass windows in a church. Drawing an analogy between white light and white noise (the former containing all the colors of the spectrum and the latter containing equal presence of all pitches), Norman tracks an evolution from darkness to illumination, as unfiltered sound emerges through a haze of harmonics. The work reaches ecstatic heights as the open strings and natural harmonics are allowed to ring freely, capturing the moment when the sun’s rays are seen directly through the prism of the glass. Eventually, Norman returns to the veiled sounds of the opening — the light is again hitting the window at an angle.
Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s Transitions was originally written for cellist Michael Nicolas. Transitions explores an expressive dichotomy between flexible “human” material and rigorous “mechanical” gestures. Airy bow sounds, percussive hits, shrouded double stops, skittering ponticello fragments, and singing melodic phrases alternate throughout the piece, establishing a multi-dimensional dialogue between the different characters of the performer’s persona.
Throughout this recording, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s performances pinpoint the essential communicative elements of each piece. Beyond simply advocating for a new body of transcribed work for viola, “in manus tuas” also asserts core aesthetic values that are traditional to string writing even as they integrate experimental techniques.
– D. Lippel
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti is a "leading composer-performer" (The New York Times) dedicated to the music of our time. In Fall 2019, Lanzilotti will begin her tenure as the new Curator of Music at The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Lanzilotti has performed with contemporary music ensembles such as A Far Cry, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Ensemble Échappé, and Ensemble Signal. As a recording artist, she has played on albums from Björk's Vulnicura Live and Joan Osborne's Love and Hate, to Dai Fujikura's Chance Monsoon and Ted Hearne's The Source. Lanzilotti’s current commissioning initiative, The 20/19 Project, includes new works by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Andrew Norman, and Scott Wollschleger.
As a composer, Lanzilotti is interested in translating sounds from everyday life onto traditional instruments using nontraditional playing methods. Her compositions often deal with unique instrument-objects, such as her commissions from The Noguchi Museum involving sound sculptures or the Akari Light Sculpture installation, and collaborations with Nina C. Young and Senem Pirler. Lanzilotti has been featured as a composer-performer on Tulsa Living Arts OK Electric Festival, the Dots+Loops series and Sound School series in Australia, and a guest composer at Thailand International Composers Festival.
To reach new audiences and share contemporary music, Lanzilotti has published articles in Music & Literature and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, and written program notes for London Symphony Orchestra. Lanzilotti's dissertation is an analysis of Andrew Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome showing the influence of architecture and visual art on the work. As an extension of the research, she created Shaken Not Stuttered, a free online resource demonstrating extended techniques for strings.
A passionate teaching artist, Lanzilotti is viola and composition faculty at Point CounterPoint (Vermont) and Montecito International Music Festival (California). Previously she was on the faculty at New York University, University of Northern Colorado, and Casalmaggiore International Music Festival. Lanzilotti is a co-founder and Artistic Consultant for Kalikolehua — El Sistema Hawai‘i, a free orchestra program for underserved youth.
Dr. Lanzilotti studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale School of Music, and Manhattan School of Music. In addition, Lanzilotti was an orchestral fellow in the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the New World Symphony. She participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy under Pierre Boulez, and was the original violist in the Lucerne Festival Alumni Ensemble. Her mentors include Hiroko Primrose, Peter Slowik, Jesse Levine, Martin Bresnick, Wilfried Strehle, Karen Ritscher, and Reiko Füting.https://annelanzilotti.com/
Andrew Norman (b. 1979) is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music.
Recently praised as “the leading American composer of his generation” by the Los Angeles Times, “one of the most gifted and respected composers of his generation” by the New York Times, and the “master of a uniquely dazzling and mercurial style” by the New Yorker, Andrew is fast becoming one of the most sought after voices in American classical music.
Andrew’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and performance practices and is deeply influenced by his training as a pianist and violist as well as his lifelong love of architecture. Andrew is increasingly interested in story-telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative-scrambling techniques from movies and video games might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. His distinctive voice has been cited in the New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors,” in the Boston Globe for its “staggering imagination,” and in the L.A. Times for its “audacious” spirit.
Andrew’s symphonic works have been performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including the Berlin, Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the London, BBC, Saint Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Melbourne Symphonies, the Orpheus, Saint Paul, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, the Tonhalle Orchester, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and many others. Andrew’s music has been championed by some of the classical music’s eminent conductors, including John Adams, Marin Alsop, Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle, and David Robertson.
In recent seasons, Andrew’s chamber music has been featured at the Bang on a Can Marathon, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Wordless Music Series, the CONTACT! series, the Ojai Festival, the MATA Festival, the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the Green Umbrella series, the Monday Evening Concerts, and the Aspen Music Festival. In May of 2010, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble presented a portrait concert of Andrew’s music entitled “Melting Architecture.”
Andrew was recently named Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year. He is the recipient of the 2004 Jacob Druckman Prize, the 2005 ASCAP Nissim and Leo Kaplan Prizes, the 2006 Rome Prize, the 2009 Berlin Prize and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship. He joined the roster of Young Concert Artists as Composer in Residence in 2008 and held the title “Komponist für Heidelberg” for the 2010-2011 season. Andrew has served as Composer in Residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Opera Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony. Andrew’s 30-minute string trio The Companion Guide to Rome was named a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and his large-scale orchestral work Play was named one of NPR’s top 50 albums of 2015, nominated for a 2016 Grammy in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category, recently won the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and was described in the New York Times as a “breathtaking masterpiece,” “a stunning achievement,” and “a revolution in music.” His most recent orchestral work, Sustain, was lauded as “a new American masterpiece” by the New Yorker, ”sublime” by the New York Times, and “a near out-of-body acoustic experience that sounds like, and feels like, the future we want” in the Los Angeles Times.
Andrew is a committed educator who enjoys helping people of all ages explore and create music. He has written pieces to be performed by and for the young, and has held educational residencies with various institutions across the country. He recently completed a children’s opera, A Trip to the Moon, that brings together professional musicians with amateur and untrained community members of all ages. Andrew joined the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music in 2013, and he is thrilled to serve as the director of the L.A. Phil’s Composer Fellowship Program for high school composers.
Andrew recently finished two piano concertos, Suspend, for Emanual Ax, and Split, for Jeffrey Kahane, as well as a percussion concerto, Switch, for Colin Currie. Upcoming projects include collaborations with Jeremy Denk, Jennifer Koh, Johannes Moser, yMusic, Leila Josefowicz, and the San Francisco Symphony.
Andrew’s works are published by Schott Music.
Caroline Shaw is a New-York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Recent commissions include new works for Renée Fleming with Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw with Sō Percussion and Gil Kalish, Seattle Symphony, Anne Sofie von Otter with Philharmonia Baroque, the LA Philharmonic, Juilliard 415, and Roomful of Teeth with A Far Cry. She has produced for Kanye West (The Life of Pablo; Ye) and Nas (NASIR), and has contributed to records by The National, and by Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. carolineshaw.com
Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s music is composed as much by sounds and nuances as by harmonies and lyrical material. It is written as an ecosystem of sounds and materials that are carried from one performer - or performers - to the next throughout the progress of a work. All materials continuously grow in and out of each other - as a performer plays a phrase, harmony, texture or lyrical line, it is being delivered to another performer as it transforms and develops, passed on to be carried through until it is passed on again to yet another. Anna’s music is often inspired in an important way by nature and its many qualities, and the qualities she tends to be inspired by are often structural, like proportion and flow, as well as relationships of balance between details within a larger structure, and how to move in perspective between the two - the details and the unity of the whole.
Anna’s music is frequently performed internationally, and has been featured at several major venues and music festivals such as Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, the Composer Portraits Series at NYC's Miller Theatre, the Leading International Composers series at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, Big Ears Festival, Spitalfields Music Festival, ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival, Lucerne Summer Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Tectonics, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions - most notably, Anna is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming, the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer Award in 2015, and Lincoln Center’s 2018 Emerging Artist Award and 2018 Martin E. Segal Award.
Some of the orchestras and ensembles that have performed Anna's work include International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, NDR Elbphilharmonie, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Yarn/Wire, The Crossing, the Bavarian Radio Choir, Münchener Kammerorchester, Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Avanti Chamber Ensemble, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, CAPUT Ensemble, Oslo Philharmonic, and Either/Or Ensemble. In April 2018, Esa-Pekka Salonen lead the New York Philharmonic in the premiere of Anna’s work Metacosmos, which was commissioned by the orchestra, and the work received its European premiere with the Berlin Philharmonic in January 2019, conducted by Alan Gilbert. Metacosmos will receive its UK premiere at the BBC Proms 2019. Anna is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. In spring 2019, she is also Composer-in-Residence at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Anna holds a PhD from the University of California in San Diego.
On her captivating debut disc, violist and composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti takes music intended for other or more instruments into her own hands. Featuring solos and duets by Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Caroline Shaw, and herself.
-Zoe Madonna, 12.13.19, Boston Globe
Violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti designed this stunning recital around the concept of transcription—or perhaps more accurately, the challenge of notating sounds for which sheet music didn’t previously exist. The forms of transcription she used vary. Some pieces were originally written for a different string instrument; for pieces like Caroline Shaw’s extravagantly atmospheric, mood-shifting “in manus tuas,” fragments of the Thomas Tallis motet of the same name were used as a foundation.
Lanzilotti is joined by Bearthoven pianist Karl Larson on Andrew Norman’s richly varied, idea-packed “Sonnets,” a brief five-movement work based on fragments from Shakespearean sonnets, and which convey essential sounds like giggling or stuttering. Although Lanzilotti wrote “Gray,” a duet with percussionist Sarah Mullins, handwritten text by the violist is translated into rhythmic material which turns up late in the wonderfully spiky piece, where droning long tones are surrounded by swelling percussive clangs performed on temple bowls, snare drum, and the Hawaiian bamboo rattle called pū‘ili. Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir transcribed her own “Transitions,” originally written for cellist Michael Nicolas, for viola, and Lanzilotti heightens the prescribed duality between “man and machine” with viscerally stunning shifts that fade away as the piece unfolds.
-Peter Margasak, 12.17.19, Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical for 2019
Violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti performs works by herself, Caroline Shaw, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and Andrew Norman. The latter high-profile young composer (who turned 40 just two months ago), is best known for his orchestral music, but as is so often the case with American composers, I think he does better with more modest, and less Eurocentric, means. His lovely solo viola piece Sabina is inspired by light refracting through stained glass windows.
-Michael Schell, 12.31.19, Sequenza21
Out on New Focus Recordings is in manus tuas, the debut solo album from composer and violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti. The record is primarily a collection of transcriptions of pieces written first for cello or violin that Lanzilotti has reinterpreted for viola. Lanzilotti is particularly adept at navigating the challenges one might find shifting new music repertoire from cello to viola, but her listeners would never hear that difficulty. Her playing is largely balanced, both in tone and with the other instruments that accompany her on the pieces she has selected for the album. With works by Andrew Norman, Caroline Shaw, Lanzilotti, and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, in manus tuas is a fantastic debut.
Andrew Norman paired piano and cello in the five movements of his piece Sonnets, inspired by excerpts from Shakespeare’s texts. The movements are clearly inspired by spoken language; the instruments are often in conversation with each other. Most of the time, cello and piano are “speaking” in contrasting voices, but Lanzilotti’s re-interpretation for viola and piano (played by Karl Larson) forces both parts into the same register. While listeners might expect to miss the deep, vibrating richness of the cello paired with the piano, Lanzilotti makes sure we don’t. Because the transcription positions the viola part an octave up from the original work, the two sounding instruments are close in register. Though the higher register dissolves some of the richness one might expect, Lanzilotti plays with a softness, not of volume, but of emotional range, that fills in any interpretive void. The piano and viola in the final movement, “confounded to decay,” are a highlight: Lanzilotti makes the harmonics speak just softly enough to draw her listener completely in.
Caroline Shaw based the eponymous in manus tuas on a Thomas Tallis motet. The writing reflects a blending of early and 21st-century musical ideas, weaving in and out of functional tonality and conventional playing techniques. Originally written for solo cello, Shaw nods to the motet itself, asking the performer to vocalize. Lanzilotti’s treatment of in manus tuas is particularly sensitive: her tone in this transcription exudes stability, allowing for both richness and brightness in the color of her playing. The uniformity in color and the higher register, in turn, showcases an articulate and deliberate sound. It thus allows the listener to hear the many measures of arpeggiated chord ostinati perhaps more clearly in this recording than in recordings of the original work. This clarity juxtaposes beautifully with passages of whisper-like extended techniques of Lanzilotti’s bow scratched lightly over the instrument’s strings.
In contrast to the delicate gentleness of the Norman Sonnets, Lanzilotti’s own composition, Gray, is almost bombastic. For viola and auxiliary percussion (played by Sarah Mullins), Gray explores the wide range of melodic capabilities of percussive instruments, as well as the percussive capabilities of the melodic viola. The piece often requires the two musicians to almost match each other in tone quality and color; pleasingly, the listener sometimes can’t decipher what instrument is making what sound.
Anna Thorvaldsdóttir originally composed Transitions for International Contemporary Ensemble member and cellist Michael Nicolas. Anna wrote a wide range of extended techniques into this solo piece, from whispery bowings to false harmonics. Transitions explore the space between tonality and microtonality, as if to mirror the juxtaposition between human influence on technology and, inversely, technological influence on humanity. The piece therefore requires the performer to both vulnerably embody potentially unfamiliar sounds and negotiate their position in Transitions‘ varying sonic areas, and Lanzilotti absolutely delivers. In Lanzilotti’s rendition of this complex work, about four minutes longer than recordings featuring Nicolas, the registral shift of the viola lends itself to exposing the piece’s microtonal space. Because Lanzilotti takes her time in playing, the tension of the piece lands more solidly, letting the sensory experience marinate for the listener.
in manus tuas proves Lanzilotti a skilled interpreter. In her careful, almost understated playing, she draws her listener in, making us wait for climactic payoff. The transcriptions chosen for the album are good fits for the viola, although one wonders whether other violists could elucidate such remarkable results.
-Tracy Monaghan, 10.16.19, I Care If You Listen
I wonder if they still make viola jokes. If yes, this gorgeous album by Lanzilotti, which engages head and heart in equal measure, should put an end to that branch of humor. Not only does she exhibit a technique that is both furiously virtuosic and fabulously free, but her conception of the album - her debut as a solo performer - is an exemplar of how to create a complete work of art. She achieves this by starting from a neat organizing principle, which is that all the works “are transcriptions or involve the act of transcribing,” as she puts it in her beautifully written liner notes, concluding the thought with this lovely passage: "Transcription enables us to learn from others as well as process our own thoughts. In doing so, we deepen our understanding of each other. Transcription - empathy - as creative process."
The boldest example of this may be the last piece, Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Transitions (2014), which was originally written for cello and given a definitive performance by its commissioner, Michael Nicolas, on his landmark album of the same name. Before hearing Lanzilotti's version, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to hear any other cellist play it, much less a violist! But she makes it work wonderfully well, illuminating the structure of the work with her musically intelligent transcription and deeply committed playing. Also originally for cello is Caroline Shaw’s in manus tuas (2009), which was inspired by the experience of hearing the Thomas Tallis’s motet in a Connecticut church. But there’s no background necessary to immerse yourself in this meditative snapshot’s yearning lines and disordered pizzicato.
Lanzilotti’s own composition, gray (2017), is next, its startling alarm bell percussion (played by Sarah Mullins) shocking you out of your reverie. Based on a work for dance, this music-only version lacks nothing as the haunting viola lines interact like dark ribbons with the percussive sounds, the latter growing increasingly abstract as the bottom of a snare drum is employed alongside Hawaiian bamboo rattles called pū’ili. External sounds, like the rattling keys of a fellow commuter, fit right in, exposing the Cagean nature of the piece.
Two works by Andrew Norman fill out the album, with the first, Sonnets (2011) giving Lanzilotti the opportunity to play with masterful pianist Karl Larson and indulge in occasional long lines that are almost romantic. The five short movements draw on fragments of Shakespeare sonnets, seeking to transcribe specific words (or feelings, at least) into sound. The second song, to be so tickled, takes its cue from Sonnet No. 128 and is especially delightful. Sabina (2008-09), the second Norman piece, also originates from a germ of extra-musical information, in this case the way light shines through the translucent stone windows of the Basilica Of Santa Sabina, and spins it into a fascinating web of sound. Even without knowing the visual inspiration, I think Sabina would still create shapes and shades in my mind. It must be treat to see Lanzilotti play it live. Hopefully she will include it - or any of the pieces from this remarkable album - the next time she graces NYC with a performance.
-Jeremy Shatan, 8.24.19, AnEarful
— Jeremy Shatan, 8.24.2020
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti represents all that’s good in the music scene. She is a composer with a busy schedule who has impressed music lovers and critics alike. She owns any stage she stands on performing noteworthy works by her contemporaries. She is talented, studious, generous, and humble. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti has made a name for herself in sounds and words. She writes beautifully about music: what it means, why it matters, and how it relates to our lives. Anne is very thorough in her studies, detailed in her understanding of compositions and interested in connecting with composers as much as with audiences.
Buy and listen to Anne Lanzilotti’s debut solo album released today on New Focus Recordings. It is a unique compilation of viola versions with repertoire by Caroline Shaw, Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Lanzilotti herself. These are passionate and eloquent renderings of some seriously striking music composed by leading contemporary composers. in manus tuas is made with love by a community of people: composers, performers, visual artist, recording artist, record label. It’s all there. in manus tuas is what you need in your life right now.
Anyone will feel cool by association with the likes of Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti. She is a real influencer and an intellectual through and through. She does not take anything for granted. Anne is soft-spoken, sincere, and powerful. She has the ability to build communities through music. Those are some of the qualities that are needed most in our world nowadays. Listen to Anne's in manus tuas and join her musical journey for the long haul. Enjoy!
— Hoctok, July 2019
As Anne says in her liner notes for this piece, “Caroline’s music is frequently about stretching out the experience of one moment, and often about experiencing music itself….” Much like the stretching of time that occurs in Sam Torres’ “Canticle,” I experience this piece, and Anne’s beautiful performance of it, like a single breath. As we peel back the layers of this single moment, there is infinitely more to discover.
— Sophia Subways Vastek, 4.24.2020
As a violist, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti is keenly aware of the scarcity of repertoire for her instrument beyond orchestral and string quartet music. So she decided to do something about it with her debut full-length album, In Manus Tuas, streaming at Bandcamp. She takes the title from the centerpiece, a Caroline Shaw composition originally written for violin. Lanzilotti came up with a new arrangement for that one, along with a tantalizing handful of other recent works originally scored for either violin or cello in addition to a world premiere of her own. There are many different flavors on this beguiling and often deviously funny album: Lanzilotti chose her source material well.
She joins forces with pianist Karl Larson for the first of two Andrew Norman works, the five-part suite Sonnets. The fleeting introduction pairs eerie, close-harmonied, Mompou-esque belltones with droning minimalism and a surprise ending. The even more abbreviated To Be So Tickled is exactly that: a coy romp. Part three, My Tongue-Tied Muse is just as vivid, if very quiet and spacious. The two return to wryly romping humor with So Far From Variation and conclude with Confounded to Decay, Lanzilotti’s hazily straining harmonics contrasting with Larson’s moody, judicious phrasing.
Shaw’s piece is a solo work that comes across as a salute to Bach interspersed with gritty harmonics and dynamically shifting pizzicato: the cello-like low midrange is striking. Lanzilotti plays her own composition, Gray, with percussionist Sarah Mullins, who gets to deliver a very amusing intro and foggy drumhead work before Lanzilotti’s muted microtones and overtones enter the picture: they’re Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund up too early with a hangover.
The second Norman work, Sabina, is a quasi-raga punctuated by all sorts of carefully modulated harmonics. Lanzilotti concludes the album with the dissociative harmonies of Anna Thorvaldsdotttir’s uncharacteristically animated, sometimes drifting, grittily oscillating Transitions, originally a work for solo cello.
— delarue, 12.11.2020