Olivia De Prato: Panorama


Violinist Olivia De Prato releases her second solo album on New Focus, Panorama, exploring the multi-dimensionality of expression and identity. Composers Missy Mazzoli, Jen Shyu, Angélica Negrón, Miya Masaoka, and Samantha Fernando contribute pieces for solo violin with and without electronics that probe questions of dislocation and return.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 44:01
01Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail
02Jeom Jaeng Yi (Fortune Teller)
Jeom Jaeng Yi (Fortune Teller)
04Mapping a Joyful Path
Mapping a Joyful Path

Olivia De Prato’s album Panorama speaks to the personal journey we all must take. It is the journey of who we are — our identities both fundamental and created by experiences, and when we are — how we see ourselves in relationship to our past and our future. These five evocative works display her airy, rose-gold tone and her exquisite attention to detail. Her acute sensitivity to balance and timbre fosters a genuine interplay between herself and the protean, multilayered electronic sounds.

Missy Mazzoli’s Tooth and Nail for violin and electronics is inspired by the timeless music of the jaw harp. At the beginning, over a fast-moving ostinato, she lays out the motives she will explore in the piece. Aching glissandi emerge, and a sweet, long-limbed melody grows ornamentation like blossoms on a vine. It has a sense of wide-open space, ancient times, people on the move. The ostinato drives us forward, so much so that when it is overtaken by soft pools of color, we still feel its haste. Sections re-emerge, like stories re-told through time. The piece winds down gradually, gathering its breath. The ostinato is replaced by a heartbeat pace and then a slow, simple bassline. The motives from the beginning come back as memories, the story told again.

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Jeom Jaeng Yi (Fortune Teller) by Jen Shyu is composed for speaking violinist, and inspired by the writing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, an American writer, producer, performance artist, and filmmaker. The piece is a sorrowful question, searching, forward facing, and full of emotion. Based on the rhythms of speech, the music follows winding, open-ended phrasing. The violin sings. It moves forward episodically, not only asking questions but bearing witness to Cha’s story. A deeper emotional layer is revealed as De Prato speaks the text along with the violin’s music, intensifying our perception of what we’ve heard before.

Angélica Negrón’s delicate Panorama is a coloristic tableau made from transparent, unique layers of sound. The work opens with saturated timbres, from which the violin emerges in a soft, ethereal voice. Long lines of glissandi form a sinuous melody, fragile and somehow searching. A scene changes, and the electronics take on a rhythmic, energized profile. The violin locks in with low pizzicatos and persistent pedal tones, while the electronics build tension as they double the pace. On top of all this, the vibrant-hued timbres from the beginning seep in, the rhythmic patterns reappear, and we still hear the fast pulsing edge in and out. The long violin lines from the beginning hover over, weightless. With masterful pacing the simple materials are transformed into a complex, multi-dimensioned organism.

Mapping a Joyful Path by Miya Masaoka is a virtuosic tour de force for both performer and composer. Masaoka “speaks” violin fluently, fully engaged with its repertoire of extended techniques and timbres, and De Prato effortlessly navigates this music, making disparate sounds cohere in a jaw-dropping performance. The piece is rooted in an omnipresent electronic tone — starting with a sine wave and slowly transforming into more complex colors. The violin’s music dances around this ground point, leaning hard against it with microtonal double stops, but untethered with music that is more gesturally and timbrally motivated, like an acrobat touching down to jump even higher. Every new passage is a new statement, a new angle. Stay on this joyful path, but don’t worry about the destination.

Balconies by Samantha Fernando can be played by five individual violinists, live, or by multi-tracked violin, where the soloist plays with four recorded parts, as happens here. The work starts with a held chord, where the consistency of De Prato’s tone creates a fine-grained, luminous hum — a rich possibility. Motives and lines awaken out of the suspense, transforming it from a mass of sound into a cloud of kinetic energy. We witness this blossoming effect from multiple vantages, each time to an unexpected but transient resolution that prepares for the next awakening.

– Kyle Bartlett

Engineer: Mike Tierney, Martin Klebahn (track 5)


Producer: Mike Tierney, Olivia De Prato

Recording Locations: The Bunker Studio, NYC (Track 1-3), Shiny Things Studio, NYC (Track 4), 4tune Audio, Vienna (Track 5)

Mastering: Murat Çolak

Artwork and Design: Denise Burt

Liner Notes: Victor Lowrie Tafoya

Olivia De Prato

Internationally recognized as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato has been described as “flamboyant ... convincing” (The New York Times) and an “enchanting violinist” (Messaggero Veneto, Italy). She has established herself as a passionate performer of contemporary and improvised music, breaking boundaries of the traditional violin repertoire and regularly performs in Europe, South America, China and the United States.

Her solo and chamber music activities include appearances at the Wien Modern Festival, la Biennale di Venezia, the Lucerne Festival,, the Ensemble Modern Festival, June in Buffalo, the Bang on a Can Festival, the Shanghai New Music Week, and Lincoln Center Festival with Steve Reich and Brad Lubman. In 2010 and 2011 she toured Europe and South Africa with Grammy-award winner Esperanza Spalding and the Chamber Music Society ensemble on violin and viola.

De Prato is a member of the new music ensemble Signal and ensemble XXI Jahundert and is the co-founder and first violinist of the Mivos Quartet founded in 2008, which focuses on the performance of contemporary string quartets.

As a guest artist, she has presented solo and chamber music masterclasses for young musicians and composers at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, UC San Diego, Princeton University, New York University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and internationally at Universidad Eafit (Colombia), Shanghai Conservatory (China), Universidad Salvador (Brazil), Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore), and MIAM University (Turkey).

De Prato has collaborated closely with composers such as Pierre Boulez, Anthony Braxton, Chaya Czernowin, Peter Eötvös, Luca Francesconi, Beat Furrer, Dai Fujikura, Michael Gordon, Helmut Lachenman, David Lang, George Lewis, Brad Lubman, Philippe Manoury, Benedict Mason, Meredith Monk, Krystof Penderecki, Bernard Rands, Steve Reich, Ned Rothenberg, Julia Wolfe, and Georg Friedrich Haas. At the Lucerne Festival Academy 2007 she worked closely with composer Peter Eötvös on his new Violin Concerto “Seven” conducted by Pierre Boulez.

Her discography includes recordings on Tzadik, New Amsterdam Records, Sunnyside Records, New Focus Recordings, Mode, Cantaloupe, Porter Records, and Harmonia Mundi. In 2018 Olivia released her debut solo album “Streya” on New Focus recordings and one of the works was nominated for a grammy 2019.

In 2019 she received the Dwight und Ursula Mamlok Prize for ‘Interpretation of contemporary music' with the Mivos String Quartet.

Olivia De Prato studied at the University of Music and Arts in Vienna and received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Eastman School of Music. She received her Master of Music as a member of the first graduating class from the Contemporary Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music.

She is currently based in Vienna and New York City.




The Wire

The New Focus label has repeatedly shed valuable light on the relationship between musically ambitious composers and those committed instrumentalists who enable their work to reach audiences. On Panorama, Austro-Italian violinist Olivia De Prato provides that vital bridge of communication for five distinctive compositional voices. The diversity of their personal and cultural perspectives, and of their approaches to writing music, calls for an extensive range of techniques and voicings. Jen Shyu's emotionally charged solo emulates the articulated flow of poetry. Samantha Fernando's Balconies calls for multitracking to trace a vibrant lattice of crossing and intersecting lines. The violin enters into expressive dialogue with electronics to realise not only Missy Mazzoli's jaw harp-inspired piece, but also Angelica Negron's dancing and questing Panorama and Miya Masaoka's mapping of a personal route to a sense of joy. De Prato meets the challenges set and opportunities offered with resourceful brilliance.

— Julian Cowley, 4.13.2023


Sequenza 21

Violinist Olivia de Prato has established herself as a staunch advocate of new music. In addition to her work with Mivos Quartet, she is a talented soloist. On her second solo release for New Focus Recordings, Panorama, she undertakes a recital disc of female composers. A number of the pieces include electronics, fleshing out the solo texture in diverting fashion.

The album opens with Missy Mazzoli’s violin plus electronics piece Tooth and Nail (2010). The original version was written for violist Nadia Sirota; this is a transcription for violin. The piece begins with string sounds in the electronics accompanying the live violin. De Prato digs into the vigorous passagework, executing arpeggiations and glissandos with incisiveness. As the piece progresses the electronics add a lower register to the piece, ending the piece. This is probably my favorite of Mazzoli’s instrumental works.

Jeom Jaeng Yi (Fortune Teller) by Jen Shyu is inspired by American polyartist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, including some of her poetry as a spoken word component. The gestures in the solo part are based on speech rhythms. Speaking isn’t constant but de Prato makes clear the connections between violin and voice. There is a mournful cast to the piece: someone’s fortune was disappointing.

The title track, for violin and electronics by Angelic Negrón, employs a bath of ambient synths and supple legato phrasing from de Prato, often with glissandos, that employs sumptuous high notes. Mallet samples and piano press the music forward, with repeating passages and pizzicato in the violin responding to the post-minimal electronics. Gradually the music picks up speed, with regularly articulated synth chords and oscillations in the violin. The texture becomes fuller, with a return of synth ostinatos, and once again upper register violin glissandos soar over the top of the varied palette of electronic sounds. The coda features a two note oscillation and clouds of chords accompanying the violin’s final melodic strands.

Mapping a Joyful Path, by Miya Masaoka, employs pitch bends in places in the synth parts. Mostly, however, the electronics part consists of sustained sine tones that are varied in register, with overtones skirting in and out of the texture. De Prato plays with varying bow pressure, aggressive repeated notes, microtones in double stops, and Eastern sliding tone to interpret a multifaceted and fetching piece. It finishes with a held altissimo note in the violin and the drones receding.

The recording concludes with Balconies by British composer Samantha Fernando. The piece can be played by five live violinists or one with a pre-recorded part. It begins with an arpeggiated flourish and overlapping ostinatos. After another iteration of the opening arpeggio, the texture thickens in the second section, moving from the triadic opening to secundal chords articulated with repeating notes. Soft pizzicatos interrupt the chordal texture, and the arpeggio announces a third section, this one supplying more spacing, but no less complicated harmonies. Melodic fragments are taken up, breaking up the verticals for a time. Melody and richly constructed chords then interact. The original gesture is reconfigured as chords in the alto register, followed by a coda of pizzicatos. Balconies is an arresting piece on recording. I would love to hear de Prato and four friends playing it live.

Once again, Olivia de Prato has presented a program of fascinating musical discoveries. Panorama supports female composers with advocacy and skill. Recommended.

— Christian Carey, 4.21.2023

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